Notable European stars who transferred to MLS in 2022 originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
This is the right time to be a Major League Soccer fan.
The competition is tight in both the Eastern and Western Conference with wins extremely difficult to come by – and it will only get worse from here.
MLS has two transfer windows in a calendar year which differs from Europe – one is the main window which ran from February 10 to May 4 and the other is the secondary window which is scheduled from July 7 to August 4 – and international stars have come to play in America during both windows.
With popular faces ready to make their mark in MLS, here are some of the most notable European stars who have transferred to the league in 2022:
Leonardo Campana – InterMiami
Campana is not known yet, but his upward trajectory looks promising. The 21-year-old Ecuadorian started his career with Barcelona Sporting Club in Ecuador and was snapped up by English Premier League side Wolverhampton Wanderers in the January 2020 transfer window. He is yet to make his debut with Wolves, but he has spent this season on loan at InterMiami where he scored eight goals in 17 appearances.
Xherdan Shaqiri – Chicago Fire
Shaqiri is one that many may be familiar with. He is a born winner, having participated in 18 trophies, national and continental, with FC Basel, Bayern Munich and Liverpool. The 30-year-old Swiss international has also spent time with Inter Milan, Stoke City and, more recently, Lyon. Then in February, MLS side chicago fire signed him for a transfer fee worth around $7.5 million.
Insigne’s transfer was definitely a surprise. The 31-year-old winger has been vital for Napoli in Serie A for 12 seasons and for the Italian national team. He was just two seasons away from a 19-goal Serie A campaign, but Toronto FC recently stepped in and signed him on a free transfer. Insigne has scored 96 goals in 337 appearances for Napoli, so expect him to bring that goalscoring touch to BMO Field and beyond.
Hector Herrera – Houston Dynamo
USMNT fans may recognize Herrera from the Mexican national team. The 32-year-old central midfielder scored 26 goals in 164 appearances for FC Porto in Portugal before joining LaLiga side Atletico Madrid in 2019. Houston Dynamo announced on March 2 that he had signed Herrera on a free transfer until 2024 with an option for 2025 as a Designated Player.
Italian national team and Serie A legend Giorgio Chiellini was the first international star to join LAFC this summer, who was on a free transfer. The 37-year-old centre-back dominated Italy’s back line for many years and recorded 425 club appearances for Juventus from 2004 to 2022. He helped his country win UEFA Euro 2020 and was named the best defender of the competition. He is now looking to help bolster Los Angeles FC’s defense to help the franchise win its first league title.
Gareth Bale – Los Angeles FC
Bale followed suit after Chiellini’s move. The soon-to-be 33-year-old Welshman signed on a free transfer after his contract with Real Madrid expired. Bale first made international waves with EPL side Tottenham Hotspur before joining Madrid in 2013, where he scored 81 goals in 176 appearances. His trophy cabinet is also stacked, including winning five UEFA Champions League titles with Los Blancos.
Cucho Hernandez – Columbus Crew
Hernandez has become a signing of the club record for the crew after paying a transfer fee worth around $10 million. The 23-year-old Colombian was under EPL side Watford for five seasons but spent virtually every season on loan at several La Liga sides. He notably scored 20 goals in 69 league appearances for SD Huesca over two seasons.
Douglas Costa – LA Galaxy
Costa made a name for himself as a quick winger who caused all sorts of problems for full-backs on the right or left flank. He joined the Los Angeles Galaxy on a free transfer after spending time with the side on loan. The 31-year-old Brazil international played for Bayern Munich and Juventus before joining MLS. He had 31 caps with Brazil from 2014 to 2018, scoring three times.
Federico Bernardeschi – Toronto FC
Bernardeschi seems to be the latest star to come from Europe. The 28-year-old winger is set to sign with Toronto on a free transfer after spending the last five seasons with Juventus. He helped Italy win Euro 2020 with their eventual winning penalty and is looking to form a dangerous attacking combo with Insigne.