For the past eight years here at MLSsoccer.com, our man in Europe, Greg Seltzer, has compiled a list of potential targets for MLS clubs. Not for nothing, each shopping list has included at least one player who has actually made the jump to MLS.
This year's list, comprising players based only in Europe, features players who will be out of contract this coming summer, but also a couple of January free agents. Which one do you think will be in an MLS club's uniform?
The versatile Canadian international attacker has made this list a few times but has yet to make the MLS move. Hoilett, who has over 200 games of EPL and English Championship experience, most recently jumped straight into the line-up for a struggling Cardiff side upon arrival in October. The 26-year-old Ontario native brings plenty of pace and dribbling ability to the table. The Vancouver Whitecaps have reportedly been interested in him in the past, and he could provide some of what they're currently seeking.
See if this sounds familiar: a Switzerland-based, left-footed Albanian attacker in his late 20s who only seems to get better with age? This year's Shkelzen Gashi could be Luzern wing ace Jahmir Hyka, who has a career-high 6 goals so far this season. He recently divulged having contact with MLS clubs and told the Albanian press that playing in America is a dream of his. With several MLS clubs searching for attacking pieces, he could be a good option.
Left back is often a trouble spot in MLS, and the 30-year-old Honduras international is a highly capable two-way solution. Nobody has been able to lure him away from Scottish club Celtic so far, but Izaguirre's playing time has diminished this year due to the emergence of young Scotland defender Kieran Tierney. Izaguirre, who has 88 caps for los Catrachos, looks like another "get while the gettin's good" option.
The 32-year-old Serbian defender is no longer a sure starter for Chelsea since new boss Antonio Conte arrived. But Ivanovic still has plenty of quality. He can play right back or in the middle, can get forward when the opportunity presents itself, and is a prime set-piece target. MLS clubs will need to act fast, though, as he has recently been linked with Spanish powerhouse Barcelona.
The Argentina forward ably helped terrorize the USMNT at Copa America last summer, and then reportedly turned down a mega-offer from a mystery MLS club in favor of an astronomical contract with Chinese club Hebei China Fortune. Due to injury, Lavezzi's Hebei contributions were limited this season, and there were rumors in December about a move to French leaders Nice (since denied). Clubs eager to make a big splash could chase him in January.
The AC Milan star has been linked with MLS moves a few times and is currently back in the headlines, with the Sounders a possible destination. A few years older than Nicolas Lodeiro, Honda possesses many of the same features: nifty dribbling, killer final balls and a top-shelf lefty free kick. He won't be a free agent until summer, but as his playing time wanes at AC Milan, it seems reasonable to think he could be had earlier than that.
The sometime US international defender has spent his entire pro career in England; however, the Illinois native runs out of contract with Nottingham Forest in June. The 28-year-old has spoken of moving to an MLS club while still in his prime and, with Bruce Arena now in charge of the USMNT, might see a move home as the perfect boost to his US hopes.
John Obi Mikel
Like Ivanovic, Mikel has won loads of trophies at Chelsea. And like his longtime Blues teammate, he's fallen out of favor under Conte. He's spoken before about wanting to play in MLS. The 29-year-old is a highly skilled defensive midfielder who loves to set the tempo from a deep position. He's already drawing plenty of January attention, with Marseille among the clubs hovering.
The Ajax playmaker is the only player on our list that has never publicly been linked with an MLS move. Nevertheless, the 29-year-old Danish international would be worth checking into for an MLS club thinking outside the box. He's the kind of under-the-radar creative talent that clever MLS sporting directors often seem to ferret out. Plus, Ajax midfielders his age are constantly threatened by the next rising phenom, and his contract is up this summer.
The Birmingham City veteran, who has yet to suit up in MLS, has spurned interest from home more than once in the past. The 30-year-old Chicago-area native is still a constant presence in the Blues' lineup and can operate anywhere in defense or midfield, perfect for shoppers craving versatility. Like Lichaj, he might see an MLS move as a boost to his USMNT chances ahead of the Gold Cup.
Every time pundits claim the Manchester City midfielder is on the decline, he roars back again to prove them wrong. The 33-year-old could still be a force for any MLS club looking for a transformative figure in the middle of the park; he's got Jermaine Jones-style chutzpah, with added skill rumbling into attack. Touré has often been mentioned as a target for MLS clubs, but with him once again leading the charge for manager Pep Guardiola, teams may have to wait until summer to grab him on a free transfer.