Landon Donovan sees both Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo playing in the MLS before they hang up their boots.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Leo Messi
Cristiano Ronaldo and Leo Messi have dominated world football over the past 15 years. (Image:

The growth of the product saw the likes of Gareth Bale, Giorgio Chiellini, Xherdan Shaqiri, Federico Bernardeschi, and Lorenzo Insigne join Major League Soccer over the past months. Donovan believes Messi and Ronaldo could opt to follow in the footsteps of other players such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, David Beckham, Thierry Henry, Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney, or Frank Lampard — all of whom played in the US before retirement.

“Beckham led the way, now our league is growing very fast and everyone wants to come here. I think one day Messi and Cristiano will play here,” Donovan said, as quoted by Calciomercato. “Beckham didn’t join at 38, he sent a message that MLS is growing very fast and continues today with Carlos Vela, Chicharito, and Gareth Bale. I believe that one day Messi and Cristiano can come.”

Do the bookies think they’ll come?

No, not really. At least not this year.

Despite Ronaldo being in a complicated relationship with Manchester United at the moment, none of the clubs he’s been linked to are from the MLS. Bookmakers aren’t even accepting bets on Ronaldo’s departure for the States this summer. In the past, Ronaldo said he’d like to try living in the US and playing in the MLS, but sources close to him see him staying in Europe for the time being.

Messi’s situation isn’t much different. The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner owns a luxury apartment in Miami and was allegedly involved in talks to join Beckham’s Inter as a player and part-owner. Those rumors have been put down by Messi’s entourage, though he’s openly revealed he wants to try MLS football before retirement. In 2021, a bet on any MLS side signing Messi as a free agent after his departure from Barcelona stood at +1600.

If a return to Barcelona will prove impossible in 2023, Messi might consider the MLS as the perfect continuation to a fantastic career.