Lorenzo Insigne is linked with MLS. Could the likes of Isco, Memphis Depay follow in free agency?

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Football fans have access to more data than at any time in history. The game is packed with advanced stats, used to measure the impact of players in possession and out of possession, and then tell the story of how important they are to a team’s success.

Not only is the field of player evaluation over-resourced, but so is the task of roster-building. This was highlighted by Toronto FC chairman Bill Manning when he spoke to the media about his club’s signing of Napoli captain Lorenzo Insigne in January.

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“I actually went to the Transfermarkt website and searched the Italian national team to find out which players were coming out of contract,” Manning said after signing the Italy international. “And Lorenzo was one of the few players out of contract. I started writing players who I thought were world class, who I thought would have commercial value in this market.”

Transfermarkt lists the type of information relevant to the front office types tasked with building a team. There are detailed player transfer histories, the names of players’ agents and representatives, estimates of players’ transfer market values ​​and, most importantly in this context, the expiration dates of players’ contracts. Fully crowd-sourced, it’s a tool that – while handy for fans, front-office aspirants and Football Manager obsessives – now has real-world use cases at the highest levels of the sport. So if Toronto can start their recruiting process by browsing Transfermarkt, why can’t we?

We dove into the site’s breakdown of players who will be out of contract on July 1 to determine if it’s possible any of Insigne’s contemporaries are set for a similar North American adventure in Major League Soccer. And if so, which clubs might make logical landing spots.

One of the blows to MLS in recent years among international players, especially those from Europe, is reduced visibility, which can threaten a player’s chances of being selected for his national team – see Sebastian Giovinco , who despite dominating in Toronto from 2015-2019 has played just 39 minutes for Italy in that span. With the World Cup ending in December, that worry should be allayed ahead of the 2023 free agent market, so we’ve taken a look at that as well.


– End of contract: June 30, 2022
– Age at the end of the contract:
30
– Transfermarkt value: $9.9 million
– Best MLS Fit: LAFC

Isco has won La Liga twice, the Copa del Rey, three Spanish Supercopas, four Champions Leagues, three UEFA Super Cups and four Club World Cups. What is left to conquer on the continent? While still in his prime, at 30, Isco has limited resale value, which may well cap the amount Europe’s biggest clubs will be willing to invest in him.

Cristian Arango was dynamite up front for Los Angeles, scoring 15 goals in 17 appearances last season, but with Diego Rossi on loan at Fenerbahce and Brian Rodriguez struggling to stick to his DP deal, there’s room for more creativity in the offensive third. of the field. LAFC also has the luxury of a free Designated Player slot and could free up another if Carlos Vela (whose contract expires in the middle of this season) agrees to a new deal using a Targeted Allocation. Isco and Vela supporting Arango would make for one of the most creative, dynamic and effective offenses this league has ever seen.


– End of contract: June 30, 2022
– Age at the end of the contract: 28
– Transfermarkt value: $16.5 million
– Best MLS Fit: DC United

Bernardeschi found it difficult to live up to Juventus’ expectations. He has contributed a direct goal every 163 minutes at Fiorentina, but that number has fallen to 232 in the four-plus years since moving to Turin. Despite this, he remains Massimiliano Allegri’s most reliable wide forward and has featured in 11 of Italy’s 19 matches in 2021. He is said to have had negotiations with the Old Lady to stay at the Allianz Stadium, as well as the ‘AC Milan and Internazionale to stay in Serie. A, but his $5 million salary demands spurned all three.

While DC lost a tireless worker and livewire on the wing in Paul Arriola, they also raked in a record $2 million in general allowance when they sent him to FC Dallas. Julian Gressel proved to be one of the league’s leading chance creators across wide areas, and Ola Kamara finished on goal level with 2021 Golden Boot winner Valentin Castellanos, creating an opportunity for someone all equally adept at creating opportunities and completing them. United also have a DP slot to spare, so it is possible to accept a salary as Bernardeschi would command, although that would limit any signing from the U22 initiative to one. It might be a trade-off to complete a powerful attacking trio at the peak of their careers.


– End of contract: June 30, 2023
– Age at the end of the contract: 29
– Transfermarkt value: $49.5 million
– Best MLS Fit: New York FC

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Ronald Koeman recruited Depay to join Barcelona on a free transfer last summer as the Catalans sought to fill the void left by Lionel Messi (and, possibly, Antoine Griezmann too), but Koeman was quickly forced out of town and her compatriot was soon linked with her own exit. Depay already left a mega-club on less than stellar terms when he joined Lyon from Manchester United in 2017; without considerable improvement over the next 18 months, it’s hard to imagine Depay getting a third opportunity at a prestigious club with salaries to match.

NYCFC fielded the MLS Golden Boot winner in 2021, but Castellanos looks set to move overseas in 2022, having been linked with River Plate, Palmeiras, Internacional and most recently Leeds United. There’s always Heber, who managed a goal every 153 minutes for the Bronx side, but barring a sensational 2022, the defending MLS Cup champion will likely be looking for an effective goalscorer.

Depay could represent a rare opportunity to sign just that, having scored 39 goals in 62 appearances for club and country in 2021, while still in his prime and with name recognition that could break into the sporting landscape. fiercely competitive New York City.


– End of contract: June 30, 2023
– Age at the end of the contract: 28
– Transfermarkt value: $18.7 million
– Best MLS Fit: Portland Woods

Fifty-one goals in 125 appearances for Lyon is close to the kind of output that won Alexandre Lacazette a move to Arsenal (129 in 275), so there’s an argument to be made that there will be a strong market for Dembele next summer. However, the Fulham academy graduate had a chance with one of Europe’s elite last term, spending the second half of the campaign on loan at Atletico Madrid. He played just 140 minutes under Diego Simeone and was an unused substitute for 12 of the 19 matches he was in the squad. (Dembele contracted COVID-19 during this time, so the benefit of the doubt is definitely warranted.)

Portland haven’t had a consistent benchmark for their offense since Fanendo Adi’s decline began in 2018, but the Timbers were MLS Cup runners-up that year and again in 2021. of the past four seasons, with varying levels of success, but none have truly claimed the team’s No.9 shirt. Dembele would change that, giving Giovanni Savarese a constant focal point as he rebuilds an attack that saw club legend Diego Valeri leave last month and is also without Andy Polo after the winger’s contract was terminated in midfield. domestic violence allegations.

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