The next targets: 5 South American attackers who should be on MLS radars
Major League Soccer is an emerging power in the Americas, and its rise is being felt by its historically more illustrious neighbors further south.
The league’s financial muscle is increasingly eating into the talent donuts circling what were once major players in the world game.
Globalization has stripped many South American nations of their brightest and best, with the most talented players leaving early and returning only for their twilight years.
The likes of Ignacio Piatti, Diego Valeri and Nicolas Lodeiro were the best that countries like Argentina could find to fill that gaping hole.
And with more South Americans finding success in North America, here’s a look at five players who could travel north to make a major splash in MLS.
Brazil - attacking midfielder – 26 years old – Flamengo (Brazil)
Gabriel Santana Pinto will likely spend the offseason debating whether it’s finally time to give up on his Flamengo dream. A wildly talented, flamboyant dribbler with the vision and technique to pass through the opposition at will, he has never enjoyed the faith of any of any of the 10 coaches to lead Fla since his 2013 arrival from Bahia.
Gabriel has seen Lucas Mugni, Alan Patrick, Ederson and now Diego Ribas all brought in as marquee no. 10s ahead of him. The time has probably come to move on, and his attacking attributes combined with his athleticism would make him potential star signing for any franchise looking to add some guile and ingenuity to its attack in 2017.
Brazil – attacking midfielder - 29-years-old –Atletico-MG (Brazil)
Things didn’t quite work out the way many had expected they would for Carlos Eduardo. A precocious teenager who had played a major role in Gremio’s journey to the final of the 2007 Copa Libertadores, he quickly headed to Germany’s second division to join big-spenders Hoffenheim in a mega-money deal that instantly had him earmarked for greatness. He impressed in Germany, too, earning a handful of international caps and a 20 million euro move to Rubin Kazan in Russia in 2010.
But that is when his momentum slowed. A serious knee injury only added to his woes. A 2013 loan to Flamengo didn’t work out, and he joined Atletico on a free transfer in April. He has managed just four starts for the club and could well be heading for an exit this year. The talent is still there, however, and his creativity and deadly left foot could be a major asset for an MLS club.