Major League Soccer has received an incredible star in the form of Lionel Messi, who has joined the Inter Miami franchise. Of course, the Argentinean will stand out from other MLS football stars, but there were athletes with a big name before him. Your attention – 5 stars MLS before the arrival of Lionel Messi.
Lorenzo Insigne was probably the main European MLS star before the arrival of Messi. They met him when moving to Toronto with a crowd of thousands, many T-shirts of the Italian winger Napoli were sold, and in Europe this player had the status of a real star. In Naples, Lorenzo was adored, and in the Italian national team he was a prominent performer, even at the time of the transition to MLS.
But for Toronto, in addition to marketing benefits, there are no special dividends from the arrival of Insigne. In his first season, he scored 6 goals, and after the arrival of another Italian, Bernardeschi, he began to play even worse. The atmosphere in the dressing room has also soured, as Insigne and Bernardeschi can’t figure out who Toronto’s biggest star is. At the same time, their game on the football field leaves much to be desired. For example, in June-July, Toronto lost six games in a row, scoring only one goal – one can only dream of playing in the playoffs in the 2023 season with such a game in attack.
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Christian Benteke came to DC United when his status as a European football star was in doubt. Benteke had his best seasons at Aston Villa ten years ago, and his period at Liverpool was rather disappointing. In Crystal Palace, the Belgian was unable to revive his career and willingly accepted the invitation of Wayne Rooney when he needed a powerful striker.
Benteke is generally good in MLS – he does the job that Rooney has given him. The team has become stronger with the arrival of the powerful Belgian, who not only scores himself, but also squeezes out space and creates chances for teammates. The combination of the tall Benteke and the nimble Greek Funtas keeps United in contention for the playoffs after a season of total disappointment.
Los Angeles Galaxy is Inter Miami’s main competitor in terms of high-profile signings. It was here that David Beckham, the co-owner of the Inter franchise and, probably, the main star in the history of MLS, along with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, played at one time. Therefore, it is not surprising that well-known players in Europe appear here.
Douglas Costa spent his best football years in Shakhtar Donetsk, from where he moved to Bavaria for 30 million euros. After two good seasons in Bayern, the club from Munich even managed to make money on the Brazilian, selling him for 40 million to Juventus. But there already Douglas Costa played mostly unsuccessfully. His career slowly began to roll towards sunset. This is the second year in Galaxy Douglas, his transfer cannot be called a failure for the team – the Brazilian creates many chances for partners, but the team is among the outsiders at the same time.
One of the most popular football players in the United States, Carlos Vela, plays in the camp of Galaxy’s principal rival, the Los Angeles Football Club. It is clear that his popularity is due to the Mexican origin of Carlos.
Vela, at 34, is still very good, but he is far from the indicators of his early career in Los Angeles – in 2019 he managed to score 36 goals. But most importantly, the club was able to win the MLS in 2022. And Vela’s contribution to this victory is great. This player has not only the status of a star in popularity, but also brings undoubted benefits to his team on the field.
But another mega-popular striker Chicharito among immigrants from Mexico, who plays just for the opponent of Los Angeles – Galaxy – has not yet gained such success as Vela in the MLS. This season he spends frankly poorly. However, Javier Hernandez spent two very productive years before that, and in the current one he faced injuries. He is not the main culprit in the troubles of the team, which is outside the playoff zone and risks failing the season.