Eric Giardini takes a look at where some MLS players might fit in Serie A
With the end of the MLS playoffs and the beginning of the January transfer window upon us sooner than we realize, this seems as good a time as any to put together a list of current MLS players I think could play, and even flourish, with a move to Serie A. The summer window saw the move of ex-MLSer Michael Bradleyand, while I don’t foresee any others following him in the winter, most of the fun of this time of year is prognosticating and making crazy claims in the event that one sticks.
The question was posed to me who I thought could play in Serie A and to be honest I never really had thought about it before. So I thought and thought (and thought) and these are some of the names I came up with. Please keep in mind that this is by no means an exhaustive list as my knowledge of MLS and its players is embarrassingly low – especially in comparison to others who write for TSG, both proper and in the comments.
I’ve divided players according to groups: The Shoo-ins (no brainers), The Potentials (could very well work), and The Wild Cards (have no idea but it’s fun to toss around in your head). For each player there will be a team and a brief description on why it could work.
David Beckham, LA Galaxy to Inter Milan
Even the most ardent Beckham naysayer has to admit that he’s having far and away his best season in America. Bruce Arena seems to have finally found Beckham’s role in the side by giving Beckham the freedom to patrol the midfield basically as he pleases while a second center midfielder (usually in Juninho) provides defensive cover. His 13 assists show that his ability to distribute is still there – especially given the forwards, aside from Landon Donovan, he’s had to work with.
Inter are having a disastrous year. They’re currently languishing near the bottom of Serie A and are already on their second manager. Shockingly, Claudio Ranieri can’t seem figure out the combination in his lineup that will unlock the potential of the squad and continues to live up to his “Tinkerman” nickname. Inter are lacking that player in the midfield that can play distributor alongside Wesley Sneijder. Where Sneijder is able to work the field much in the same manner as a point guard in basketball, Beckham, even in his advanced age, can still hit the pinpoint 40 yard cross field pass which would bring a different wrinkle to the Inter attack. Additionally, by bringing Beckham to the black and blue half of Milan, he brings buzz back to the club. Nobody is discussing Inter in any sort of positive light these days and this move at least gets the club back into the world soccer conversation. Finally, Beckham is comfortable in the Milan. He had a relatively successful time at AC Milan before a freak Achilles injury in March 2010 ended the rest of his loan spell.
TRADE: Thierry Henry, NY Red Bulls to Juventus in exchange for Alessandro Del Piero
Fun fact: Thierry Henry already played for the Turin club early in his career and it can best be labeled as a bit of a failure. Playing largely out of position on the wing, he only managed to score 3 goals in 16 appearances before moving to North London. The rest, as they say, is history. Now could be the perfect time for a second-go-round in Italy for Henry. His game has matured over the past 11 years and his best position on the field is more clearly defined now than it was in 1999. It also gives Henry one last chance to capture silverware in the only league that he has played in that he has yet to claim.
In October, Juventus went public and said that it would not be bringing back the face of the club, Alessandro Del Piero, next year when his contract expires. Club president Andrea Agnelli basically said the only reason they gave Del Piero a one-year contract last summer was purely ceremonial as they moved into the new Juventus Stadium. Even at 36, Del Piero still has life in those legs. With the Red Bulls having trouble selling tickets, why not bring one of the most beloved, if not the most, Italian players of this generation to New York/New Jersey. It is almost too perfect.