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Major MLS Transfer Signings This Summer – Chiellini & Bale team up against Bernardeschi & Insigne

A combination of big-name stars and up-and-coming talents has highlighted a busy recruitment campaign in Major League Soccer this summer.

From Thierry Henry and David Beckham to Andrea Pirlo and David Villa, MLS used to be an attractive destination for major European stars approaching the twilight of their careers.

Nothing has changed over the years, though the league’s exponential growth has made it appealing to some younger stars eager to make a name for themselves away from Europe.

With the 2022 MLS campaign already up and running, numerous franchises have showcased their prize transfer acquisitions in a quest to secure a play-off spot at the end of the regular season.

Let’s have a look at the most eye-catching transfers in MLS this summer.

Cucho Hernandez – Watford to Columbus Crew 

It’s strange to see a 23-year-old rising Premier League star leave Europe to join an MLS side. But that’s what Cucho Hernandez did when Watford failed to preserve their top-flight status.

Despite being linked with several Premier League clubs on the back of the Hornets’ drop to the EFL Championship, the Colombian striker has chosen Columbus Crew as his new destination. 

There’s no argument to dispute Cucho’s decision as he already has eight goals from as many MLS appearances to his name. 

Denis Bounga – Saint-Etienne to Los Angeles FC

Tipped for a big-money move to some other European club following Saint-Etienne’s relegation to Ligue 2, Denis Bounga has ended up flying out to North America.

The 27-year-old winger was a rare shining light at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard over the past three years, notching up 26 goals in 97 league appearances for Les Verts. 

However, like many other Saint-Etienne’s standout performers, Bounga left the sinking ship, finding refuge in MLS with Los Angeles FC.

Domenico Criscito – Genoa to Toronto FC

As an absolute Serie A legend, Domenico Criscito left Genoa, who suffered relegation to Serie B last season, to continue his career at Toronto FC.

The veteran left-back returned to his boyhood club Genoa in 2018 following a successful seven-year spell at Zenit St Petersburg and captained the Rossoblu over the past four seasons.

Like some of his other Italian compatriots, Criscito departed Serie A to try his luck overseas this summer. 

Douglas Costa – Juventus to LA Galaxy

Douglas Costa used to be one of Europe’s most intimidating attacking figures during his time at Shakhtar Donetsk, yet subsequent spells at Bayern Munich and Juventus cast a shadow on his football legacy.

The Brazilian winger could not catch a break in Serie A, with numerous fitness problems continually hindering his progress in Turin before the Italians finally decided to dump him this summer. 

Costa signed for LA Galaxy on a short-term loan in February and turned his move permanent this summer, putting pen to paper on a one-and-a-half-year contract.

He’s still struggling. 

Federico Bernardeschi – Juventus to Toronto FC

Federico Bernardeschi was a star in the making during his breakthrough Serie A years at Fiorentina before completing a blockbuster switch to Juventus in 2017.

However, the 28-year-old forward never found his feet in Turin, with recurring injury issues and underwhelming performances turning him into a bit-part player at the Allianz Stadium.

Problems with inconsistency and fierce competition for places at Juventus contributed to Bernardeschi’s poor scoring outlay of 12 goals across 184 appearances for the club.

He has already tallied four goals in only seven MLS outings to date, showing why Toronto made him a designated player. 

Giorgio Chiellini – Juventus to Los Angeles

Giorgio Chiellini is another former Serie A star that left Juventus to ply his trade in MLS. But unlike Bernardeschi, he has joined current Western Conference leaders Los Angeles. 

The legendary Bianconeri captain waved goodbye to the Allianz Stadium after a trophy-laden 18-year stint during which he wrapped up 20 major domestic titles, including nine successive Serie A triumphs. 

Now well in the autumn of his illustrious playing career, Chiellini could add the MLS Open Cup to his outstanding trophy cabinet. 

Gareth Bale – Real Madrid to Los Angeles

It’s been long coming. Ever since Gareth Bale discovered his love for golf and extracurricular activities, it’s become clear his European adventure was coming to an end. 

One of the most expensive La Liga signings of all time and one of Real Madrid’s heroes (even though some won’t admit that) enjoyed a stellar nine-year spell at the Santiago Bernabeu.

In addition to lifting five Champions League titles with Los Merengues, Bale was on the scoresheet in the two grand finals to write his name down in the competition’s history. 

He’s already a difference-maker in MLS.

Hector Herrera – Atletico Madrid to Houston Dynamo 

Hector Herrera’s two-and-a-half-year time at Atletico Madrid was a success by everyone’s standards, even though he oftentimes wasn’t fit enough to replicate his sublime Porto form. 

Diego Simeone was in love with the experienced Mexican midfielder, using him to cover a multitude of roles from deep in the midfield to the frontline. 

Herrera cut short his La Liga journey to team up with Houston Dynamo back in March, but his playmaking genius and leadership skills have only come to light this summer. 

Lorenzo Insigne – Napoli to Toronto FC

Lorenzo Insigne’s move from Napoli to Toronto could be considered one of the most bizarre pieces of business in recent years. 

Even at 31, the Italian winger was the beating heart of Luciano Spalletti’s side for almost the entire decade. 

The club captain and fan favourite, Insigne could have almost seen his name next to Diego Armando Maradona in Naples before deciding to call time on his career in southern Italy this summer. 

By the way, he is still missing the penalties in MLS.

Riqui Puig – Barcelona to La Galaxy 

Another peculiar case on this list saw Barcelona youth academy graduate Riqui Puig leave Camp Nou to kick off his MLS adventure with LA Galaxy earlier in August.

Truth to be told, the 23-year-old midfielder never got a real opportunity to prove his worth in La Liga, but to leave Europe for North American football at such an early age is bamboozling. 

Maybe Puig can use his new experience in MLS as a springboard to return to Europe one day and make Barca regret their decision not to give him a proper chance. 

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