Over the weekend, reports broke that Dutch legend Arjen Robben "favors a move to MLS" this summer as he departs Bayern Munich with his contract expiring.
Robben has been integral to Bayern's dominance of the Bundesliga over the years with 143 goals and 101 assists in 305 games across all competitions. Now, the soon-to-be free agent may be MLS-bound this summer. According to ESPN's Taylor Twellman, Robben may even be signed on a Targeted Allocation Money deal for the remainder of 2019 (rather than a Designated Player charge), like what happened with Zlatan Ibrahimovic last season.
Let's be abundantly clear: All 24 MLS clubs wouldn't mind having Robben on their list of options. Some situations just make more sense than others by way of fit and budget. Toronto FC would have been one that comes to mind, but Twellman reports that they are out of the running.
With that in mind, which three MLS landing spots make sense for Robben?
Columbus Crew SC
It wouldn't be a perfect fit from a resources perspective, with the Crew signing Brazilian winger Robinho this summer while already having Justin Meram and Pedro Santos on the books. But, MLSsoccer.com's very own Matt Doyle is on the record as recently as last October in saying that the Crew could be the best team in MLS with a direct, goalscoring winger.
direct, goalscoring winger who can burst through the lines and finish plays off— Matthew Doyle (@MattDoyle76) October 6, 2018
Sure, things have changed since October but the point remains that the Crew could reach a higher apex if Gyasi Zardes had a second fiddle for the goalscoring burden.
Minnesota United FC
Look: The Loons are about to open a brand new stadium, have a handful of key players already over 30, so they aren't afraid of age, feature a formation where Robben could set up shop on his familiar right flank and it's Year Three of the Three Year Plan. If there's enough TAM leftover from the Ike Opara trade, Robben would be a tremendous addition to Minnesota.
Oh, yeah: Minnesota call Allianz Field home. Bayern Munich play at Allianz Arena. That's a seamless transition.
On the field, though, a front four featuring Miguel Ibarra, Darwin Quintero and Robben underneath Angelo Rodriguez, who has excellent holdup play, is dangerous and complementary. Between Quintero, Robben and Ibarra, Rodriguez certainly wouldn't need a 20-goal season to be effective.
While FCD have no dearth of wingers to select, as well as an aggressive #PlayYourKids ethos, Robben would still make a lot of sense for Luchi Gonzalez's young squad.
Dallas have enjoyed success this year as a collective unit rather than individual brilliance, but sometimes teams fall out of form. Robben is a player that can rescue points all on his own. That's hugely valuable at the business end of the season.
FCD president Dan Hunt certainly didn't rule out a pursuit of Robben (or teammate Franck Ribery) during an interview with MLSsoccer.com in March:
“[Robben and Ribery] are two global superstars, I’ve admired them over the years," Hunt said. "The success that pair has had is unbelievable. If MLS is something of interest to them, I think both would do very well. … Once they get on the field, they beat people with superior talent and score goals. Who doesn’t want that for FC Dallas?”