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Could Cyle Larin Make it in Europe?

Larin has scored three goals in two games at the start of this season but could he produce similar performances in the big leagues in Europe?

MLS: New York City FC at Orlando City SC Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Cyle Larin has been rumored to be making a move to Europe for a while now and the positive comments by his teammate Kaká have only fanned the flames. Kaká was even quoted as saying that Larin could “play in a big team in Europe.” This comment is particularly intriguing because of Kaká’s vast experience playing overseas. He would definitely know what it takes to make it in Europe as well as anybody could know.

These comments by Kaká were made back in January with Larin’s first two seasons as the basis of it. Now, with the season underway, the ‘Silent Giant’ has continued to shine. With three goals in the two games this season, he seems to be fitting into Jason Kreis’ system well with two up top. This further begs the question, could Larin fulfill his prophecy and be a part of one of the “big teams in Europe.” If you ask some optimistic City fans they think he could make it to Europe this summer. And just the thought of that scares every true Lion.

Its great that Larin is performing well in MLS but the real question is how does this translate to Europe. Also, Europe isn’t even the end goal. Based on Larin’s potential, many believe the sky is the limit. His goal should be to become the greatest Canadian player ever. There is definitely a viable path which we hope involves a lengthy stay in Orlando. With the current rumors though, it seems he is a good offer away from jumping ship and heading to a big league in Europe.

As for the question whether he would make it in a top level league, let’s use some other MLS players’ experiences in English Premier League as a reference. The reason I have chosen the EPL as the model is because it is considered by many to be the best league in the world. Also there are a lot of former MLS players who have given it a go themselves. Additionally, the culture shock is generally less pronounced for English-speaking players moving to the EPL than other big leagues in Europe.

Perhaps the most popular success story would be Tim Howard. Howard initially played for the North Jersey Imperials and then the Metrostars before making the move to Manchester United. He is most known though for his time with Everton, the club he had played for from 2006-2016. He has dominated the starting spot for most of his time there, solidifying himself as one of the best goalkeepers in England. This proves an MLS player can successfully make the move to England but it would be a little different for a forward like Larin.

The best example of a forward making the move would probably be Clint Dempsey. His high was a 15-goal season he had with Fulham before making a move to Tottenham Hotspur, one of the most storied clubs in English history. Like Larin, Dempsey is a former MLS Rookie of the Year. He won the award while playing with the New England Revolution after his team reached the MLS Cup final. The following season he had another good year en route to another MLS Cup final loss. This caught the attention of Fulham, who acquired the American in 2006 for $4 million — the most ever paid for an MLS player at the time. After a rough first year, Dempsey became a key member of Fulham’s squad. He, like Howard, went on to have a great, lengthy career in Europe. But with every success story comes an unsuccessful one.

Some former MLS players who have failed to make it in the EPL include former Lion Brek Shea, Landon Donovan, and most recently, Jozy Altidore. Unfortunately, of all the players I have mentioned thus far the one that most resembles Cyle Larin is Jozy Altidore. This is unfortunate because he is one of the ones that didn’t make it. Both of these players’ assets include the fact that they are physical players that are not short on speed. The big difference is that if Larin were to make a move to the EPL now, he would be coming over much earlier than Altidore did. I actually believe he won’t make a move to the Premier League right away.

His career could look something like Altidore’s. Jozy Altidore left the U.S. for Spain early in his career when he joined Villareal. After a shaky period — just like Dempsey had — in Spain, he then moved to AZ Alkmaar, where he experienced his most success in terms of overall performances and goal-scoring numbers. Then he moved to Sunderland, where it all went downhill. His one and only season was a troublesome one with very few minutes on the pitch and only one goal to his name. This led to a move back to Toronto FC. Throughout all of this, Altidore has always been known most for his consistent appearances with the USMNT. I also think this could be the case for Larin. He too will likely be remembered most for his possible future accomplishments with the Canadian Men's National Team.

After looking at of some other MLS players who have moved to Europe, has our big question been answered? Can Larin make it in Europe? Definitely. There have been many players just like him who have gone on to have successful careers in Europe. What I do think is out of reach is making it to a top European club. Former MLS players who did this had extraordinary talent that I personally just don't know if Larin possesses. But nevertheless, we wish him well in his career endeavors. We also hope though that he has no intention of leaving any time soon.