Even though recent reports suggest that Barcelona summer freebie Andres Iniesta is weighing offers from the Far East, he's also been linked with interest from MLS for a while now.
The silver-hording midfielder may be out of play soon, as Spain's Cadena Ser reported earlier this week that he turned down crazy money in China to sign for crazier money with Japanese side Vissel Kobe. (It's worth noting, however, that Vissel Kobe's director has denied they made a $30M per year offer.)
But what if all possible Asian deals fall through or he simply decides that the far flung competition and culture is most fun in North America? Where would he best fit?
We've weighed all relevant factors (team need and fit, open Designated Player slot, etc.) to come up with two suitable MLS landing spots. Neither can match the Catalan weather, but each has an allure of its own.
The capital crew need several things, to be sure. And with their new stadium set to open, D.C. are aiming to play one of their free DP cards to sign a big-money forward. That's a great idea.
But why not spend the other DP spot one someone who can galvanize the midfield while pulling defenders away from Luciano Acosta and offering plenty of lead passes for Yamil Asad and Darren Mattocks ... if not also, for example, Wayne Rooney?
Iniesta's flashy set-up numbers are down over the last couple years, but that's partially because he patrols deeper these days. Of course, there's no law that says an MLS buyer can't move him back up the pitch a little to take advantage of his combo play and ability to find open lanes.
Some things haven't changed a bit for Iniesta. He's still just a shade below a 90 percent passer, he still keeps bad giveaways to a minimum and he still draws a lot of free kicks in dangerous areas. He's the "all-weather" type of midfielder that excels whether you're playing possession or getting out on the break.
Ben Olsen's bunch needs improvement in all these areas. So far this season, D.C. have taken the fewest shots per game while allowing the second most. They're 21st in possession percentage and have yet to score a counter attack goal. On top of all that, there's also a stable full of young midfielders that can use some on-field guidance.
If the Black-and-Red could sell him on being a transformative force for a storied franchise, Iniesta could do wonders for this club.
New York Red Bulls
Let's get one thing straight: the Red Bulls don't currently seem to need any help in midfield. Nevertheless, they do have an open DP locker and should be looking for the right upgrade to close ranks on the beasts of the East. What if Iniesta likes the idea of being the final puzzle piece for a title contender?
Just imagine the fun they could have in Harrison watching Iniesta take advantage of all the pressure turnovers this team forces. Oh, the runners he could choose from! Imagine Iniesta setting Tyler Adams loose up the gut. Or dispensing through ball delights for Kaku and Bradley Wright-Phillips. Or combining with Daniel Royer, or feeding Kemar Lawrence up the flank. You get the idea.
With this one addition, the Red Bulls would automatically become even more free-flowing on the break and have a possession leader when time comes to sit on the ball. Iniesta could also strike up a fun rivalry with former running mate David Villa, applying another layer to the Big Apple derbies.
Just imagine it.