Now that Santa has put his feet up to decompress from a busy night of work, there's less than a week left before winter transfer windows around the globe officially open for business. Right on cue, we've compiled a list of tempting potential targets Major League Soccer clubs could (or dare I say should?) start browsing – if they aren't already, that is.
As with many things in life, transfer shopping often comes down to timing. And in an attempt to maintain this annual bit's perfect record of having at least one listed player turn up in MLS during the year to come, we're going to suggest taking advantage of some ongoing situations that might ease a club exit/impact player capture. You will see a lot of guys who are midway through the last year of their contract (when clubs often prefer to sell at a large discount rather than losing them on free transfers), and some with other good reasons to seek a change.
As is customary, we'll serve up an appetizer of honorable mentions before getting into the main course: center back Jordi Amat (K.A.S. Eupen), winger Viktor Claesson (Krasnodar), forward Arnaud Nordin (Saint-Étienne) and forward Cristian Tello (Real Betis).
This one may turn out to be a gimme, as the Canada netminder reportedly wants out at Red Star Belgrade after a falling out with the manager. Loaded with big-time European cup experience, Borjan would be a great capture. It could also serve the national team well to have their No. 1 close by as they attempt to wrap up World Cup qualification for the first time since 1986.
The Steaua Bucharest flank ace was reportedly getting tons of attention from big European clubs – as well as New York City FC and Orlando City – before various injuries chipped away at his pitch time for a full year. Coman returned to action from a summer knee procedure a couple of weeks ago, so a preseason camp could be quite helpful for him (hint hint). He's quick, physical, fearless and, when fit, makes all the plays you'd want your winger to make with confidence.
I like to include at least one American on this annual browsing list, and have deemed the Heracles Almelo midfielder to be the most chase-able US international for this offseason. The Eredivisie battlers, who won't hesitate to move a player on an expiring deal for a little coin, have rounded out and firmed up De la Torre's game by playing him a little deeper in midfield this season.
It seems as though the influential Mexico midfielder's time at Atletico Madrid may soon run its course. Considering Herrera's usage this season and the fact his deal runs out this summer, it's probably not out of the question that they'd listen to a winter offer for him. There will be stiff competition for his services, though, and any El Tri, USMNT or Canada supporter can surely tell you why that is.
The Frenchman (another one whose deal ends this spring) has averaged about 16 goals over his last four full seasons, but his playing time at Arsenal took a hit before Gunners captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was suspended. Even though Lacazette has surged back into the starting XI, could Arsenal expedite the 30-year-old striker's exit before his contract runs out at season's end? Maybe somebody should get Toronto FC center back Chris Mavinga on the case.
Earlier in the year, the veteran defender was being linked with a Liverpool move. Now Lyon are trying to dump Marcelo after some beef with manager Peter Bosz. Truth be told, that entire club is up in the air, so it's probably better to focus on how the Brazilian is a rangy, all-action center back that some team will wisely rescue.
The Monza striker is giving off major Luca Toni vibes. Two years ago, he was in Serie C. Last season, he bagged six goals in 33 games. Now, he has six in his first 11 games of the current Serie B season. Mota isn't fancy, but he's tough, makes helpful runs and finishes the plays he should. He's also out of contract come summer, so grabbing him would be very much like catching an elevator on the way up.
Need a clever, hard-working, goal-dangerous winger? Cool, then pay attention. Nguette is a hound, without or without the ball, and he has a doozy of a shot (which he's finally learned to use more often). Frankly, with his contract running out and Metz hanging around the Ligue 1 trap door again, it's a shock his name isn't turning up in transfer scuttlebutt. I'd love to see what the Senegal international could do if he was ever on a good team.
If you haven't noticed, MLS clubs have made some great buys on Sweden defenders in recent years. Chicago reportedly made a run at Nilsson a couple offseasons ago but didn't secure his services. Despite the 27-year-old's sometimes heroic best efforts, Arminia Bielefeld look like Bundesliga relegation bait, so they might be amenable to flipping their backline marshal in January for a small profit.
I've never included a former MLS player in one of these lists, but the Montpellier left back is too good to pass up and looks ripe for picking. The Cameroon international was terrific in Montréal and darn near it during his first two full campaigns in France. However, the new manager has turned the position over to a young hotshot and Oyongo's deal is almost up (yep, yet another one).