Last year quite a few players retired from their clubs who still seemed to have time left in their career, especially if they were to play in the MLS. Looking at these different names there was a group that stuck out that would be amazing to have at Atlanta United. These players retired because they felt they could not perform at the level which they expected themselves to play. Some of them came off rather good years at their respective clubs. Some of these players are legendary in their own right. Of course the same can be said of David Villa, Kaka, Lampard, Rooney, Pele, and Ibrahimovic. All of which left their leagues to join the ranks of footballers in America when they saw the potential of extending their careers in the United States. Many players hang up the boots because they want to live regular lives, having done a singular thing for many years, and have no want to play again. These players are simply ones that seemingly could make a huge impact if signed by United, or any MLS squad.
#1: Robin Van Persie- Van Persie is remembered for his amazing ability to head the ball as well as his elusive ability to split defenders. He played the majority of his career with Arsenal scoring nearly 100 goals with the club. He then went on to score 40 for Manchester United, as well as scoring 50 goals for his country. At 36, Van Persie could certainly bring value to any MLS team. Not only would his years of experience come in hand, but he probably would have at least 2 years of playing in him. The Dutch forward could also bring a fair amount of attention, having been such a great international and domestic player for so many years.
#2: Petr Čech- The Chelsea legend has always been a favorite goalkeeper of many football fans. Always wearing his trademark rugby cap due to an injury suffered that cost him his life, Čech’s retirement came as a surprise to some. The keeper went from Chelsea to Arsenal and performed extremely well. Also bringing 124 Caps with the Czech Republic his leadership and ability still seemed well-honed towards the end of his career. It would also just be amazing to see him in the United States, as his name would bring a ton to whatever team he joined. He is a technical advisor for Chelsea now, advising the new crop of keepers for the club.
#3: Xavi- At 39 the incredible Spanish mid-fielder would not have many years left to play. In the last few years, he has been playing for the Qatari Football club Al-Saad. After retiring from playing he took over as Head Coach for the club. Xavi would bring perhaps the most knowledge of any player ever to come to the MLS. He and Andres Iniesta were the glue that held together the mid-field of many great Barcelona sides. Although he is up there in age, it seems that if he were to come to the MLS even for a year, he would be bringing more to the advancement of Football in the United States than in Qatar.
#4: John O’Shea- The former Manchester United star and Republic of Ireland International would be amazing to see in an MLS uniform. At 38 he also would not have many years left in him, but still could make an impact with his aggressive style of play and leadership. Although a long way from his Man U days, his name would also bring more attention to the MLS. He could certainly have an impact, even if only a year or two.
#5: Andrea Barzagli- The Italian Defender is most known for his dominance with Giorgio Chiellini with the amazing squads at Juventus. Some consider that the backline to be one of the best in the history of the club. It seemed through his last years of play he was being plagued by injury. One of the best CB’s to ever step onto a pitch, his ability to read oncoming attackers has always been something amazing to watch. He is now helping to coach the Juve side under Maurizio Sarri. Even though he is also almost 39, he could bring an experience to the MLS that European teams hated playing against for over a decade.
Many of these men have hung up the boots because they were simply ready. Many of them were surely courted by MLS teams to come to play in the United States. Still one can never say for certain when a player is truly done with any sport. There have been many players to retire only to come out of retirement a few years later. Although highly unlikely, it would still be amazing to see any one of these players in the United States, especially if it were in Atlanta.