Notable European stars who have transferred to MLS in 2022 originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
It’s a good time to be a Major League Soccer fan.
The competition is narrow in both the Eastern and Western Conference with wins extremely difficult to come by – and it will only get tougher from here.
MLS has two transfer windows in a calendar year that differs from Europe – one is the primary window that ran from Feb. 10 to May 4 and the other is the secondary window that is slated for July 7 to Aug. 4 – and international stars have come to play in America during both windows.
With popular faces set to make their mark in MLS, here are some of the most notable European stars that transferred to the league in 2022:
Leonardo Campana – Inter Miami
Campana isn’t a household name yet, but his upward trajectory looks promising. The 21-year-old Ecuadorian started his career with Barcelona Sporting Club in Ecuador and was picked up by English Premier League’s Wolverhampton Wanderers in the 2020 January transfer window. He hasn’t made his debut with the Wolves just yet, but he’s spent this season on loan at Inter Miami where he’s bagged eight goals in 17 appearances.
Xherdan Shaqiri – Chicago Fire
Shaqiri is one many may be familiar with. He’s a born winner, having been a part of 18 trophies, both domestic and continental, with FC Basel, Bayern Munich and Liverpool. The 30-year-old Swiss international also spent time with Inter Milan, Stoke City and, most recently, Lyon. Then in February, MLS side Chicago Fire signed him for a transfer fee worth around $7.5 million.
Lorenzo Insigne – Toronto FC
Insigne’s transfer definitely came as a surprise. The 31-year-old winger has been vital for Serie A side Napoli for 12 seasons and the Italian national team. He was just two seasons removed from a 19-goal season in Serie A, but Toronto FC recently swooped in and signed him on a free transfer. Insigne bagged 96 goals in 337 appearances with Napoli, so look for him to bring that goal-scoring touch to BMO Field and beyond.
Héctor Herrera – Houston Dynamo
USMNT fans may recognize Herrera from the Mexican national team. The 32-year-old central midfielder enjoyed a 26-goal tenure in 164 appearances with FC Porto in Portugal before joining LaLiga’s Atletico Madrid in 2019. Houston Dynamo on March 2 announced it had signed Herrera on a free transfer until 2024 with an option for 2025 as a designated player.
Giorgio Chiellini – Los Angeles FC
Italian national team and Serie A legend Giorgio Chiellini was the first international star to join LAFC this summer, which was on a free transfer. The 37-year-old center-back dominated the Italian backline for many years and logged 425 club appearances with Juventus from 2004 to 2022. He helped his nation win the UEFA Euro 2020 and was named the best defender of the competition. Now he’s looking to help bolster Los Angeles FC’s defense to help the franchise win its first league title.
Gareth Bale – Los Angeles FC
Bale followed suit after Chiellini’s move. The soon-to-be 33-year-old Welshman signed on a free transfer after his contract with Real Madrid expired. Bale first made international waves with EPL side Tottenham Hotspur before joining Madrid in 2013, where he deposited 81 goals in 176 appearances. His trophy cabinet is also stacked, most notably winning five UEFA Champions League titles with Los Blancos.
Cucho Hernández – Columbus Crew
Hernández became a club-record signing for the Crew after coming over on a transfer fee worth about $10 million. The 23-year-old Colombian was under EPL side Watford for five seasons, but he spent practically every season on loan at several La Liga sides. He most notably scored 20 goals in 69 league appearances for SD Huesca over two seasons.
Douglas Costa – LA Galaxy
Costa made a name for himself as a speedy winger who caused full-backs all sorts of problems down the right or left flank. He joined the Los Angeles Galaxy on a free transfer after spending some time with the team on loan. The 31-year-old Brazilian international played for Bayern Munich and Juventus before coming to MLS. He had 31 caps with Brazil from 2014 to 2018, scoring three times.
Federico Bernardeschi – Toronto FC
Bernardeschi looks to be the latest star to come over from Europe. The 28-year-old winger is set to sign with Toronto on a free transfer after spending the last five seasons with Juventus. He helped Italy win the Euro 2020 with his eventual game-winning penalty kick and is looking to form a dangerous attacking combo with Insigne.
Riqui Puig – LA Galaxy
It was a move that shocked many football fans globally, but Riqui Puig is officially a member of the LA Galaxy. Galaxy acquired the 23-year-old midfielder in a permanent deal from FC Barcelona as he looks to rejuvenate his once promising career in the States. Galaxy is currently in a playoff spot in the Western Conference with 10 games remaining, so he joined Costa as a midfield acquisition for the club.