Rumor Central: Could MLS be new home for these released Premier League players? | THE SIDELINE

Arshavin

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Official announcements from various Premier League clubs have trickled out over the past few days of players being released at the end of their now-former contracts.

On Wednesday, we had the news of Aston Villa's Eric Lichaj getting an outright release, while Simon Dawkins — still under contract with Spurs, mind you — is expected to go in search of a new landing spot. Either could, in theory, make their way to Major League Soccer this summer.

They're not necessarily the only ones. The whole of the Premier League has finally officially ridded itself of expiring contracts and begun to look elsewhere. MLS teams will do the same when the league's summer transfer window opens July 9.

Highlighting the list of players released, and making for good MLS transfer fodder, are the following:

Defenders: Paulo Ferreira (Chelsea)

Midfielders: Andrey Arshavin (Arsenal), Yossi Benayoun (Chelsea), Florent Malouda (Chelsea), Thomas Hitzelsperger (Everton), Jermaine Pennant (Stoke City), David Bentley (Tottenham) and Zoltan Gera (West Brom)

Forwards: Roque Santa Cruz (Man City), Simeon Jackson (Norwich City), Marc-Antoine Fortune (West Brom), Carlton Cole (West Ham) and Franco di Santo (Wigan Athletic)

At varying degrees of logic, all of these players make some level of sense for a certain few MLS teams.

Arshavin has already been linked with a big money move to MLS — and of all places, the LA Galaxy.

Benayoun supposedly really has his sights set on coming to MLS.

Hitzlsperger trained with the San Jose Earthquakes before the start of the 2012-13 European season, but opted for a one-year deal with Everton instead.

You can always expect any British player from the Premier League or Championship rumored with MLS to ultimately be linked to Toronto FC and new head coach Ryan Nelsen, and that's the case with ex-Stoke midfielder Pennant.

Bentley reportedly made an attempt to move to MLS on loan in February, but wound up at Blackburn Rovers to end the season.

Cole has already been heavily linked with more than a couple MLS teams since he was announced to be leaving West Ham.

Among the others, Santa Cruz (above, right) and di Santo are the obvious gems of the entire class, and maybe just a bit outside most MLS teams' spending power.

Santa Cruz was an early prize and then casualty of the billions that came into Man. City the last half-decade, and played sparingly from 2009-12. But back to back season-long loans to Real Betis and Málaga of La Liga the last two seasons saw the 31-year old Paraguayan net 15 times in a combined 63 appearances.

Di Santo will likely attract larger European suitors after Wigan were relegated and unable to afford the 24-year old Argetine center forward.

Jackson would make quite a bit of sense for a club like Toronto FC — for the obvious Canadian connection — but also the Nelsen effect. Surely a team that's scored just twelve times on the season and won just once in their last 27 games could use a 17-time Premier League scorer from Norwich. And at just 26 years old, Jackson could have either incredibe longevity left to his career, or a very high sell-on value.

Ferreira could be a solid right back option for a few MLS teams looking to shore things up at the back as the playoff race heats up.

What do you think? Which MLS team needs which player to make either a push for the playoffs, or a deeper run at the Cup?