1. Ronaldo (age 30, AC Milan, Brazilian). Past his best? Yes. Weight problems? Well, coming to the States probably won't help his waistline. But if you had to choose someone to put away a scoring chance to save your life, there would be no one better. Perhaps the most natural pure finisher the game has ever seen – and that sort of ability is never completely lost.
According to reports, the New York Red Bulls were close to signing him before he agreed to a 12-month extension at Milan. However, he loves the U.S. and it would be no surprise to see him in MLS within the next year or two.
Possible destination: New York Red Bulls or a second New York franchise.
2. Zinedine Zidane (age 35, retired, French). He retired after the 2006 World Cup and his infamous head butt on Marco Materazzi, but seems to be getting itchy feet and is pencilled in to play against the Los Angeles Galaxy in an exhibition in Australia later this year.
Indications are that he could be tempted to pull on the boots for a couple more seasons and he won't want to play at a lower level in Europe. Just imagine him and Beckham both playing central midfield together. Ouch, watch out league.
Possible destination: Los Angeles Galaxy, San Jose Earthquakes (who return to MLS as an expansion team in 2008).
3. Claude Makelele (age 34, Chelsea, French). Anyone with even a vague interest in the English Premiership knows all about the famed Chelsea defense. In the first two seasons of Jose Mourinho's reign, the west London side conceded only 37 goals in 76 league matches.
John Terry rightly took much of the credit, but the unsung hero was Makelele, who created a formidable barrier by playing just in front of the back four. Makelele has talked about his wish to play in MLS but just signed a one-year extension to extend his Chelsea contract to 2009. Perhaps even more noteworthy: He has a hot partner – Noemie Lenoir, a supermodel turned actress who starred in "Rush Hour 3."
Likely destination: Houston Dynamo.
4. Rafael Marquez (age 28, Barcelona, Mexican). The Mexico defender signed a new contract at Barcelona after the last World Cup to keep him at the Nou Camp until 2010. By then he will be 31, and there are strong suggestions in Spain that he could be interested in a move to MLS at that stage of his career.
Cuauhtemoc Blanco has been superb since moving to Chicago and has some productive years ahead. But by 2010, he will be 37 and the Fire's fanatical Mexican supporters could be ready for a new cult hero.
Possible destination: Chicago Fire, Chivas USA.
5. Fabio Cannavaro (age 33, Real Madrid, Italian). Italy's legendary defender would add some steel to any MLS defense. He received some criticism following his move to Real Madrid following the 2006 World Cup, but he won over fans by the end of the season.
Two years still remain on his Madrid contract, but Cannavaro has always kept himself in phenomenal condition. Even at 35 in 2009, he would be an exemplary addition to the league.
Possible destination: Toronto FC.
6. Thierry Henry (age 30, Barcelona, French). The former Arsenal striker has just joined Barcelona and will not be leaving any time soon, but several factors point to a future move to MLS. The newly single Frenchman is close friends with NBA star Tony Parker and has often listed New York as his favorite vacation destination.
He even has some presence here, having been featured on Gillette television advertisements alongside Tiger Woods and Roger Federer. He would terrorize MLS defenses with his pace and ability.
Possible destination: New York Red Bulls, Houston Dynamo, FC Dallas.
7. Juan Sebastian Veron (age 32, Estudiantes, Argentinean). Veron is currently back with his hometown club Estudiantes in Argentina and recently rebuffed repeated efforts to bring him to D.C. United. But while the deal is on ice for now, it may not be completely dead, with D.C. desperate to get a big-name drawing card to add some spice to its impressively solid and well-drilled squad.
Veron has plenty of ability and while his work ethic has sometimes been questioned, he would certainly be effective in MLS.
Possible destination: D.C. United.
8. Ryan Giggs (age 33, Manchester United, Welsh). Giggs was the predecessor to David Beckham at Manchester United, becoming a teenage icon after breaking through as a 17-year-old. He subsequently took a step back from the high life, but continued to excel on the field and has won a record nine Premiership titles.
His United contract ends next year and he is expected to retire, but he could be tempted by a switch to MLS.
Possible destination: New England Revolution, Colorado Rapids.
9. Henrik Larsson (age 35, Helsingborgs, Swedish). Larsson may be impossible to get – after all, he turned down a contract extension at Barcelona to return to Swedish club Helsingborgs. However, there were suggestions that part of that was due to him wanting his children not to grow up in Spain.
He may not have similar reservations about the U.S. Larsson is so much more than just a goal scorer; he would be a gem for MLS.
Possible destination: San Jose Earthquakes.
10. Pierluigi Collina (age 47, retired, Italian). OK, I know it's cheating by choosing a referee as No. 10. But Collina is a cult figure and a truly sensational referee. Scandalously pensioned off in Italy due to his age, the greatest ref in history would be a brilliant addition to MLS and would help improve refereeing standards that are far from perfect.
If the MLS could get any of these guys it would help out the league greatly.
I would love to see Henrik Larsson come over and I would love for Ft Lauderdale to get a team. The Miami Fusion had a good following in Ft Lauderdale so I think they should bring a team to Ft Lauderdale again, alls they need to do is have one Brazil and one Haitian on the team and it would sell out every match.
Anyone of those players would be an awesome addition to the MLS. That's really what the league needs to compliment its burgeoning young talent -- proven European stars for a little media excitement, i.e. Beckham
You would think Ft Lauderdale and like areas Florida would do well in keeping an MLS team with a good anchor player or two.
They named them the Miami Fusion when they played in Ft Lauderdale which pissed everyone one off in Ft Lauderdale and they had a good following. The guys would go to the local pubs and hangout with people and it got a lot of people involved in the local team. There are a lot of people from Ireland, S America, Mexico and the UK in this area so they liked having a new local team to follow especially if there was a player from their home country on it. I think they made a mistake with the name and by getting rid of the team.
The only guys on that list that would be worth the coin would be Makalele, Canavarro, Henry, and Marquez.
Marquez will be with Barca for a few more years, but after that, Chivas USA, Houston or Chicago would make sense.......Henry is two classes above any striker we have in the MLS and is a celebrity that comes close to Beckham....Makalele is a vet. leader that any MLS team can use to help groom some of the youngsters....Canavarro in New York and Chicago would be an instant boost to attendance.
There are a few other guys I'd like to see considered over the next few years including Roberto Carlos, Diego Forlan, Patrick Viera, and Riquelme.
This is exactly the problem that happened when FIFA first tried to crack the US market. If Pele, Cruyff and other members of the worlds best ever players couldn't get things started through 'star power' then some currently well known players who are getting over the hill wont be able to IMO.
Beckham is a different case than the rest, lets face it madrid signed him to improve market penetration in Asia and he is easily one of the most well known players among people outside of soccer, probably not even pele is as well known/recognised.
IMO what the US needs isn't more 'big name' players who are at the end of their career but try and position itself as a second teir competition which the big 5 feed off or use to get their youth some much needed competitive practice. Sure it doesn't sound as great as the US becoming a haven for big name players but it would be much more effective in increase the quality of the mls.
The clubs should be looking for potential stars, not just from the US but everywhere and concentrating more on developing attractive football. Lets face it no league in the world is going to crack the top 5 or even the top 7-8 if you look at it seriously, even the US with its huge amounts of money wont do it because the US market has little credit over in europe and if players want to make it career wise then they need to be playing in europe. Hell even beckham wouldn't have considered moving to the US if his career hadn't dried up in the previous year (luckily for the US he started performing again) and he and his wife didn't have one eye on a possible future career.
So in my opinion the mls if it wants to grow, needs to get europe and european players talking about it as a possible step in their career, and needs to start forming agreements with the big international clubs (espcially seeing as they never come up against each other it would be ideal).