Six ex-Premier League stars who jumped on the MLS bandwagon this year

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Major League Soccer is fast becoming the go-to destination for former Premier League players keen to follow in the footsteps of David Beckham, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard.

And the past couple of months have been no different, with a host of familiar Premier League names and faces heading to the States for a spot of 'soccer' in the sun.

Here are six of the biggest who have been on the move this year.


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1. Jelle Van Damme - LA Galaxy

Belgium international Van Damme is best known among Premier League fans for short spells with Southampton and later Wolverhampton Wanderers, though the tough tackling defender failed to settle with either.

Having played the majority of his football with Anderlecht and Standard Liege, he recently became the latest big name to head to the US, signing with LA Galaxy.

2. Antonio Nocerino - Orlando City

Despite playing for Juventus and AC Milan during an impressive career that also includes 15 caps for Italy, Nocerino makes the cut due to the half season he spent with West Ham in early 2014.

Loaned to the Hammers for the remainder of the season, Nocerino made ten Premier League appearances. He returned to parent club Milan and whilst he was keen on remaining with West Ham, a series of loans to several other Serie A sides followed.

Released by the Rossoneri in February, Nocerino has now moved to the US and was formally presented to Orlando fans at half-time during a recent match with Real Salt Lake.

3. Nigel De Jong – LA Galaxy

Once a mainstay of the Manchester City side that won the FA Cup and Premier League under Roberto Mancini, De Jong's next move saw the Dutchman head to Milan, where he fared well over the course of a four-year stay.

However, after falling out of favour under Sinisa Mihaljovic, the Netherlands international decided to try something different. Despite only signing a contract extension in the summer of 2015, Milan agreed to terminate his deal.

De Jong left the San Siro on January 31st, signing a one-year deal with LA Galaxy despite the warnings of international coach Danny Blind, who warned the midfielder he will no longer be considered for selection while playing Major League Soccer.

4. Maynor Figueroa – FC Dallas

A popular figure among Wigan fans having helped the Latics to FA Cup success in 2013, Figueroa headed to the States after he was released by fellow Premier League side Hull City in May 2015, following the club's relegation from the top-flight.

Though he initially signed with Colorado Rapids in early August of the same year, Figueroa - known for his eye for goal from long-range - was traded to FC Dallas back in January.

5. Ashley Cole – LA Galaxy

Arguably the most notable name on the list having made 107 appearances for England over the course of high-profile spells with Arsenal and Chelsea, Cole made his way to the MLS after a difficult stint in Italy with Roma.

Despite signing a two-year deal with the Giallorossi, Cole's contract with Roma was terminated with the defender playing just 11 times in Serie A.

Having linked up with familiar faces like Robbie Keane and Gerrard at LA Galaxy, Cole has so far made a bright start to life in the US.

6. Julio Baptista – Orlando City

Loaned to Arsenal for a season during a three-year stay with Real Madrid, Baptista is still fondly remembered by Gunners fans for bagging four goals in a record-breaking 6-3 win over Liverpool in the League Cup.

However, a return of just three goals in 24 Premier League games saw him head back to Spain before moving on to Roma, Malaga and finally back to Brazil.

After three seasons with Cruzeiro in his homeland, Baptista became the latest big name to move to the MLS, signing with Orlando in March where he has been reunited with fellow Los Blancos and Selecao star Kaka.

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Steven Gerrard
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