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Five international free agents for Charlotte FC to target this summer

By Brian Maurer

In MLS, the secondary transfer window opens on Thursday, July 18. This will be a key date for Charlotte FC fans as expectations during the Dean Smith era have risen because of his ability to get results without a full slate of Designated Players.

The summer window allows Smith to get some of the attacking pieces the team is currently lacking. One area of the market that the Charlotte Front Office will be targeting is high-level veteran free agents.

Reports have already surfaced that Charlotte had contacted soon-to-be free agent Marco Reus. The Dortmund legend had made it known that he would consider moving to MLS after playing in the Champions League Final on June 1.

There is interest from the club, but Reus is not interested in coming to the Queen City. While this deal will not get over the line, the interest does provide insight into how Charlotte’s Front Office is approaching the summer; high-profile, experienced, immediate-impact players.

Here is a list of the 2024 free agents that Charlotte could be targeting to boost their squad for the final stretch of the season:

Daichi Kamada

Kamada is an attacking midfielder with several years of experience playing at a high level. He will be turning 28 later this year making him a player in his prime who would be quite difficult for an MLS club like Charlotte FC to nab.

The Japanese international has had an up-and-down first season with Italian club Lazio, but he is ending it on a high note as he has made eight consecutive starts to close out the season with one more potential starting opportunity coming this weekend against Sassuolo.

The midfielder does have option years added to the end of his contract so depending on his situation with Lazio he could end up staying next season even if he technically has an expiring contract.

Kamada would be an outrageous get for an MLS club as he is still in his twenties and has a plethora of high-level experience and goal contributions. During his time with Eintracht Frankfurt, he made 179 appearances with 40 goals and 33 assists.

Graphic and stats by smarterscout

High-Profile Rating: Medium

Experience Rating: High

Immediate-Impact Rating: High

Yusuf Yazici

Yazici was transferred to Lille in 2019 for a sum north of $18 million but has struggled to become a regular with the French side. He is still young as he just turned 27 this year. His contract expires this summer making him a potential target for MLS clubs willing to take a chance on a player with some high-level European experience, but who has struggled to cement himself as a week-in-week-out starter during his time in France.

His best season for Lille was 20/21 when he had 14 goals and five assists across all competitions. Seven of those goals were in Europa League. The next two seasons after that campaign he spent time out on loan in Russia and Turkey.

This past year he was able to reach double-digit goals with Lille as well but has still struggled to increase his amount of regular playing time. This suggests that there is a decent chance he does not sign a new contract making him a free agent this summer. 

As a high-level player still in his prime MLS is likely not his first choice but money talks.

Graphic and stats by smarterscout

High-Profile Rating: Low

Experience Rating: Medium

Immediate-Impact Rating: Medium

Bobby De Cordova-Reid

Cordova-Reid has well over a decade of experience playing at all four league levels in England. His most recent stint at Fulham has been his highest-profile play, but his minutes have started to tail off this year.

The Jamaican international’s most productive season with Fulham was when he helped them earn Premier League promotion during their 21/22 campaign. He had 15 goal contributions (8g/7a) during that Championship season.

Cordova-Reid’s 23/24 season was also productive as he finished the year with 11 goal contributions (7g/4a) across all competitions, but his Premier League minutes dropped by over 1000 compared to his 22/23 campaign.

With his minutes dropping, and his contract expiring, the veteran midfielder could be looking for a new opportunity. Charlotte FC has had success recruiting from the Premier League. Most notably, Team Captain Ashley Westwood and Head Coach Dean Smith, but also current Assistant Coach Christian Fuchs back in their 2022 season.

Graphic and stats by smarterscout

High-Profile Rating: Medium

Experience Rating: High

Immediate-Impact Rating: Medium

Iker Muniain

It is rare in the modern era of soccer for a player to be a part of one club for over 15 years, but that is what Muniain has done. The Athletic Bilbao legend has an absurd amount of high-level experience playing in La Liga as he signed with the club back in 2009.

He has over 100 La Liga goal contributions in his career (56g/48a) and has 76 career goals for Athletic. His most goal-productive season was 21/22 where he had 19 goal contributions in all competitions (6g/13a).

This past season he has had less than 1000 minutes for Athletic and had an emotional farewell this past weekend. There are also rumors starting to circulate that he is interested in coming to MLS.

Muniain looks set for a new challenge and MLS looks like an ideal landing spot. Charlotte would land a massive upgrade by signing a player with Muniain’s resume.

Graphic and stats by smarterscout

High-Profile Rating: High

Experience Rating: High

Immediate-Impact Rating: High

Dries Mertens

Mertens has had an extremely storied career. His extensive resume at the club and international level is about as good as it gets. He is also set to be a free agent this summer.

During his time with Napoli, he scored 148 goals in all competitions and had 179 goal contributions (113g/66a) in Serie A. The midfielder has 28 goal contributions (16g/12a) in 39 Champions League appearances and has 109 international caps for Belgium.

The last two years he has played in Turkey for Galatasaray and the 37-year-old has continued to produce with 27 goal contributions (9g/18a) in just over 2400 league minutes this season.

This would be a massive star signing taking advantage of the transfer momentum boost from the Messi-era of MLS.

Graphic and stats by smarterscout

High-Profile Rating: Very High

Experience Rating: Very High

Immediate-Impact Rating: Very High