Welcome to The Weekly Five. This week we’ll look into some of the top MLS players and assess their potential for success in the English Premier League.
1. Sebastian Driussi (Austin FC, Attacking Midfielder)
We’ll start off with the top goalscorer of the previous season. Sebastián Driussi had earned himself a contract extension heading into the 2023 Major League Soccer season. During his first year and a half at Austin FC, the Argentine midfielder had notched an impressive 30 goals and 12 assists across 54 total MLS appearances – including 22 goals and 7 assists during their 2022 campaign, which saw them reach the Western Conference Final in just their second year of existence.
Rooted as a new legend. ✍️ pic.twitter.com/aD8PYMDTsU
— Austin FC (@AustinFC) February 14, 2023
Austin rewarded Driussi by extending him through 2025 with an option for 2026; thereby ensuring that they would retain their talismanic player while also fending off any potential suitors from abroad such as English Premier League side Leeds United who already boast several USMNT players amongst its ranks.
At a joint press conference announcing his new deal, both Driussi and ATX head coach Josh Wolff alluded to this interest from other clubs but highlighted how eager he was to remain in Texas. In response, the club owner Anthony Precourt made it clear that he wanted to secure Sebastián’s commitment to the club; thus paving the way for his extended stay with Austin FC.
Sebastián Driussi would be a perfect match for the English Premier League. His impressive goal-scoring record and knack for providing assists make him an ideal candidate to slot into any top-flight side’s attack. His ability to read the game, coupled with his technical skill and quickness of thought, makes him well-suited to the fast-paced nature of English football; allowing him to quickly transition from defense to offense when needed. Furthermore, his experience in MLS has given him plenty of exposure to playing on artificial surfaces which is something that many foreign players struggle with upon arriving in England.
2. Djordje Petrovic (New England Revolution, Goalkeeper)
Djordje Petrovic is one of the most impressive goalkeepers we have in the MLS right now. His ability to deny penalty kicks are of the highest standard. Apart from leading the MLS in penalty kick saves during his debut season 2022, He also earned two shutouts for Serbia’s U-21 side in UEFA European U-21 Championship Qualifying and recorded 18 clean sheets over three seasons with FK Čukarički.
Djordje would be a great fit for the English Premier League due to his immense talent and proven track record of success at both club and international levels. In fact, Manchester United already got their eyes on him. He boasts a strong save percentage (75.68) which could prove invaluable when it comes to helping teams secure vital points throughout the season. Furthermore, he is no stranger to pressure situations, having played in several high-profile matches including those against Russia on Nov 18th, 2020, and Poland on Oct 9th, 2020 – making him well suited for competing at the highest level of English football competition.
Finally, Petrovic’s quick reflexes have enabled him to make some truly remarkable saves; such as his performance against Houston Dynamo where he made three saves within 10 seconds – earning himself an MLS Save of the Year nomination!
Djordje is a talented goalkeeper who has shown time after time that he can handle pressure-filled moments with ease – making him an ideal candidate for any team looking for quality between their posts in England’s top-flight league.
3. Riqui Puig (LA Galaxy, Central Midfielder)
It’s hard to ignore Riqui Puig when you watch the LA Galaxy. The petite midfielder is a standout due to his strict adherence to tucking in his shirt, and he has been MLS’s star signing of the summer. With Puig controlling LA’s midfield (and their opponents’), it was no surprise that they earned a spot in the Western Conference Semifinals.
The 23-year-old Spaniard is among the best players in all of MLS at transitioning possession from Point A to Point B, evidenced by his presence in the 91st percentile or higher among midfielders this year for expected assists, progressive passes, progressive carries, key passes, shot-creating actions and passes into both the final third and box. He also creates chances at an impressive rate – 0.20 xA per 90 minutes – which puts him above almost every other No. 8 in MLS.
Per American Soccer Analysis’ goals-added metric, Puig was third overall during regular season play for goals added per 96 minutes among those with 500+ minutes; if you include playoffs he leads all players with 1000+ minutes for goals added per 96 this year! His eight combined goals/assists outshine Denis Bouanga’s one since joining LAFC from Saint Etienne late last window period as well as SKC’s moves for Agada & Thommy and Cincinnati’s acquisition of Miazga; none compare to what Puig brings: he is undoubtedly one of the most talented central midfielders ever seen playing professionally here.
Puig would be an ideal fit for any Premier League side due to his technical ability in central midfield. His skill at controlling games with precise touches, swift passing, and deceptively fast runs on and off the ball would be invaluable assets for any team looking to bolster their squad. He is also incredibly adept at moving possession higher up the field while creating opportunities in advanced areas. All these qualities make Riqui Puig an excellent candidate should Barcelona decide again to part ways or sell their exclusive buyback option on their former player joining a Premier League club.
4. Jakob Glesnes (Philadelphia Union, Centerback)
Jakob Glesnes has earned the distinction of being Philadelphia Union’s first-ever MLS Defender of the Year. The 28-year-old Norwegian put together a tremendous campaign, helping lead the Union to an impressive +46 goal difference and clinching the Eastern Conference’s No. 1 seed in the Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs.
Glesnes was joined by runner-up Kai Wagner, center-back Jack Elliott and either Olivier Mbaizo or Nathan Harriel at right back to form one of MLS’s most formidable defenses. Anchoring them was Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year finalist Andre Blake who won this accolade twice before (2016 and 2020).
In 2022, Glesnes led Philadelphia in interceptions (57) as they finished with an unbeaten regular season record (12W-0L-5D) at Subaru Park; he also received only two yellow cards while playing every available minute (3,060) for a second consecutive year and notched three assists – a career best! He is also capable of scoring goals himself as evidenced by his dramatic winner against Atlanta United last May.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) November 20, 2021
His skill set and experience in MLS have already made him a dominant force on the pitch, but he has all of the qualities necessary to take his game to another level in Barclays PL. He has excellent defensive instincts and reads play well, making him an ideal center-back for any team looking to shore up their defense. He is also very comfortable with the ball at his feet, which makes him a great option when it comes to starting attacks from deep positions or helping out in midfield.
On top of that, Glesnes’ passing range and vision are superb; he can pick out teammates with pinpoint accuracy over long distances or thread through balls into tight spaces when needed.
What really sets Glesnes apart though is his ability to make late runs forward into dangerous attacking areas – something you don’t often see from central defenders in Europe’s biggest leagues. This would give EPL teams an extra dimension going forward as they look to break down stubborn opponents while still keeping their defensive shape intact.
Glesnes has already proven himself capable of performing at an elite level in MLS; if given the opportunity, there’s no doubt he could do exactly the same thing in the Premier League too.
5. Hany Mukhtar (Nashville FC, Attacking Midfielder)
Hany Mukhtar has enjoyed a historic two-year spell, earning him the title of 2022 MLS MVP and the Golden Boot, with 11 assists and 23 goals. What’s more, he’s the first player to lead the league in consecutive seasons since 2015-’16. His combined total of 62 goals and assists over 2021-22 is the fifth-highest two-year span in MLS history.
The previous year saw him earn Best XI midfielder and finish second in MVP voting, aided by 28 combined goals and assists in the regular season and three more in the playoffs. The highlight was his record-breaking hat-trick in six minutes against Chicago Fire FC, along with seven Team of the Week selections and two Player of the Week awards. This merited him the Tennessean Sportsperson of the Year 2021. In his first season with Nashville SC, he was the joint-top scorer alongside Daniel Rios and led the team in assists.
Mukhtar’s impressive performances in the MLS have demonstrated that he is a player capable of succeeding at the highest level. His ability to score goals and create chances makes him an ideal fit for the English Premier League, where teams often rely on their attacking players to make the difference.
He has already proven himself to be a reliable goalscorer in Nashville SC, and his experience playing against some of Europe’s top clubs during his time with Hertha BSC will stand him in good stead should he move to England. Furthermore, his pace and agility would be an asset for any team looking to play counter-attacking football or press high up the pitch. With these qualities combined with his eye for goal, it is easy to see why Hany Mukhtar could become a star in the EPL if given the opportunity.