Football

Coming to America -- Messi and Ronaldo?

Updated 1705 GMT (0105 HKT) February 22, 2016
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Barcelona's Lionel Messi and Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo are two of the finest footballers ever to have played the game. Could they both end up playing in Major League Soccer before long? Getty Images/file
The pair have won seven World Footballer of the Year crowns between them, Messi currently ahead with four to his name. There's no suggestion of them leaving La Liga just yet, but both have hinted in the past that they would be keen to move Stateside at some point. Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images Europe/Getty Images
Argentina captain Messi has a remarkable 301 goals in 336 games for Barcelona and is part of the most feared forward line in world football alongside fellow South Americans Luis Suarez and Neymar. The trio helped Barca win the Spanish League, Spanish Cup and European Champions League last season. Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images Europe/Getty Images
Ronaldo's scoring record at Real Madrid is even more impressive -- a phenomenal 247 goals in 225 matches. He has won seven major honors since moving to Real from Manchester United for $115 million in 2009, but has only one La Liga crown and one Champions League triumph with the club. JORGE GUERRERO/AFP/Getty Images
Frank Lampard (center) told CNN he thinks it is a "real possibility" that Messi and Ronaldo could end up in MLS. "I think they'll want to, and I think they'll be embraced if they came here," he said. "Cristiano, particularly, I could see playing in America. I think the lifestyle would suit him -- he's a showman." D Dipasupil/Getty Images/file
Ronaldo has spent plenty of time Stateside on pre-season tours with Real. He said of America in 2012: "This country is brilliant. The mentality of the people, the conditions, they are in the right place. And I think the soccer here, they do the best they can, it's good, but I think it can be better. I hope to come here to play one day." Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images/file
Ronaldo's superstar status would fit the Hollywood lifestyle. He has been romantically linked with two of its most famous inhabitants -- Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton -- and even threw a ceremonial first pitch before the LA Dodgers played the New York Yankees in July 2013. Getty Images/file
Messi has also been to the States on preseason visits with Barcelona, and organized a charity game for his foundation in Chicago, also in 2013. NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images/file
Brazil's Kaka played in MLS with Orlando City last season. He told CNN: "I think one day, probably, they [Messi and Ronaldo] are going to come to join MLS. I know that depends on a lot of things. But both already said that they wanted to play here, they like the possibility to live in America. So, probably one day we will have the joy of seeing these guys playing here." Alex Menendez/Getty Images
"I'm sure they'll enjoy the life on and off the pitch because America's a super country to come and work and enjoy," said LA Galaxy's Steven Gerrard. I know from playing with players in the English dressing rooms at home everybody is talking about the MLS now. Maybe five, 10 years ago that wasn't on the radar so much, but it is now -- and I'm talking about big players." Stephen Dunn/Getty Images/file
MLS is set to get even bigger in the next few seasons. Four new franchises are set to join, Minnesota and Atlanta in 2017, another LA team in 2018, and a Miami franchise owned by David Beckham in 2020. The former England captain's arrival at L.A. Galaxy in 2007 was seen as a game-changer for MLS. Aaron Davidson/Getty Images/file
Clint Dempsey, who started his career at New England Revolution and had a successful six-year stint in the English Premier League with Fulham and Spurs before joining Seattle Sounders, thinks the "sky is the limit" for MLS. "It's only going to continue to grow. More money's going be involved with it," he said. "The quality of players is going continue to increase. Competition is just going to get better and better." Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images/file