Premier League stars who moved to MLS as Los Angeles eye up Aubameyang

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Major League Soccer is home to plenty of former Premier League players – and a number have taken the league by storm. Over the years, a number of stars who cemented their games in England, have travelled across the pond to see out their playing careers in the division.

Back in 2007, David Beckham’s move to LA Galaxy laid the foundations for a number of European stars to cross the Atlantic, though a fair few had tried their luck in MLS even earlier.

One player tipped to make a move to the US is Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who was recently left out of Chelsea’s Champions League squad. Aubameyang was originally expected to leave west London in the summer, but could leave now.

And according to journalist Matteo Moretto of Relevo, Los Angeles FC are in talks with the Blues over the transfer of the Gabon international.

The window is still open for American clubs and it is a time where they try and scout the biggest available players from Europe that they could possibly bring into the league.

Here, Express Sport takes a look at some notable ex-Premier League stars that took their footballing careers over to the US.

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Gareth Bale

Gareth Bale came through Southampton’s academy and then developed into one of the best players in the world during his time at Tottenham Hotspur.

He then had a trophy-laden nine-year stint at Real Madrid before receiving offers from Cardiff City and Los Angeles FC. Ultimately, the winger picked California over a return to his hometown.

Notably, the 33-year-old scored a header in the 128th minute of the MLS Cup against Philadelphia Union to bring the game level and send the match to penalties. LAFC went on to win the match and their first MLS Cup.

The Wales legend later confirmed his retirement from football in an emotional post on social media last month.

Carlos Vela

One of the biggest success stories in MLS, Carlos Vela was joined by Gareth Bale in Los Angeles to produce a daunting front-line.

Vela began his professional career with Arsenal, but left the club in 2012 after failing to hold down a regular starting spot. His move to the US came off the back of more than 200 games with Real Sociedad.

He soon hit the ground running in California. The 34 league goals he scored in the 2019 season remains a record for a single campaign, though he has struggled with injuries in the years since.

Vela won the MLS Supporters’ Shield with LAFC in 2019, before reaching the final of the CONCACAF Champions League the following year.

Javier Hernandez

Javier Hernandez, another Mexican international, made more of an impact in England.

The former Chivas star, better known as ‘Chicharito’, scored more than 50 Premier League goals across spells with Manchester United and West Ham United.

The 34-year-old joined LA Galaxy in 2020, arriving during a difficult time off the pitch and taking time to rediscover his form, however, 17 goals in the 2021 season was almost enough to drag his team into the playoffs.

Hernandez recently revealed he could see himself representing Mexico at the 2026 World Cup. He currently stands as the national team’s leading goalscorer, tallying 52 in 109 appearances to inspire El Tri to several CONCACAF trophies and a round of 16 appearances at the 2010, 2014 and 2018 World Cups.

Kieran Gibbs

Once labelled by Arsene Wenger as the next Ashley Cole, Kieran Gibbs failed to live up to those expectations – but still made 180 Premier League appearances during his time at Arsenal and West Bromwich Albion.

The left-back left the Baggies at the end of the 2020-21 season and joined Inter Miami, who are managed by Phil Neville and co-owned by David Beckham.

Since moving to America, he’s also become one of the first footballers to have half of their monthly salary paid in bitcoin.

He’s far from the first player to receive cryptocurrency benefits, as even Lionel Messi received a cryptocurrency bonus in his Paris Saint-Germain contract last summer.

Xherdan Shaqiri

After playing for two of European football’s heavyweights in Bayern Munich and Inter Milan, Shaqiri raised a few eyebrows with his £12m ($14.5m) move to Stoke City in 2015.

He remained with the Potters until their relegation in 2018 and then became a reliable squad player for Liverpool as they won the Premier League, Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup.

The Switzerland international had a brief stint at Lyon before joining Chicago Fire in 2022 and signing a contract worth £6m ($7.35m) a year, making him the second-highest earner in the MLS after Lorenzo Insigne.

His transfer signing was the most expensive in the club’s 25-year history.

Victor Wanyama

Wanyama, much like Shaqiri, had struggled for minutes in England before moving to America.

The Kenyan international midfielder had played just four times for Tottenham Hotspur in the 2019-20 season, prompting him to head to CF Montreal ahead of the 2020 MLS campaign.

Still just 31, Wanyama played more than 150 Premier League games during his time with Spurs and Southampton. His move to Canada has brought more regular football, and he made his 50th MLS appearance in 2021.

Wanyama retired from international football in September 2021 after 14 years of playing in the Kenya squad.

David Beckham

It would be incomplete to mention former Premier League players in the MLS without David Beckham.

The former Manchester United player did wonders under Sir Alex Ferguson. With a desire to improve soccer in the US, the former England international signed a five-year contract with LA Galaxy in 2007. However, he only made fewer than 100 appearances in MLS during that period due to frequent loan spells in Europe.

His move to the US soccer league became a major starting point for what would become a retirement league for top European soccer talents.

Several other players such as Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ashley Cole and Bradley Wright Phillips all followed in his footsteps.

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