COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – It may be a ways down the road for some, but at least a couple of Tottenham Hotspur players have Major league Soccer on their minds as they make their long-term career plans.
When asked by reporters about the possibility of joining MLS in the future after Tottenham’s open training in preparation for Wednesday's AT&T All-Star Game (9 pm ET on FOX Sports 1, UniMas, TSN and RDS) both Belgian international Toby Alderweireld and teenage prospect Dele Ali and said they were open to joining the league further down the road in their careers.
“Why not?” replied Alderweireld when asked if he’d like to come to the league sometime in the future. “The league is growing, they’re putting a lot of money in it, so a lot of big players from Europe are coming. So why not here?”
The 26-year-old defender, who starred for Belgium against the United States in last summer's World Cup, only just joined Tottenham this summer on a five-year deal, so any potential move would be far down the road. It’s a sentiment, though, that underscores the growing recognition of the league in Europe, which has been boosted by the arrivals this summer of a series of international stars, including Andrea Pirlo, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and most recently Didier Drogba.
“Definitely,” Ali said, when asked if MLS is growing in recognition in Europe. “Obviously it shows with the players that come over – Gerrard, Lampard, all of them, the best players in the world are coming over, and that shows it’s going in the right way.”
Ali, 19, is another new arrival, having just joined Spurs from lower-league side MK Dons, and is eager to prove himself at a high level. He’s not thinking about anybody other than his new team in the short term, but admits that he and his friends have thought about living on the other side of the Atlantic at some point in their lives.
“It’s funny because me and my friends spoke before about where we’d like to retire if everything goes as planned, and America is definitely a place we think about,” he said, adding that he wouldn’t close the door on the idea of playing in the US further down the road.
“There’s all sorts of great players here,” Ali enthused, “but this is a place I’d love to live as well.”