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Robbie Keane: Premier League players 'desperate' to join MLS

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Robbie Keane believes the standard of the MLS is better than ever

LA Galaxy's Robbie Keane says he is getting calls from players in England 'desperate' to join him in the MLS.

The former Tottenham and Liverpool striker was one of the more high-profile players to move Stateside when he signed for Galaxy in 2011.

However, he has since been joined by the likes of Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Andrea Pirlo and Kaka as the appeal of the MLS has grown.

"There has been a massive difference between 2011 and now," Keane told Sky Sports. "David Beckham was really the one who started it off and I followed him and since then, the influx of stars who have come over here has been absolutely huge.

"People like Kaka, Lampard, Stevie, [Giovani] Dos Santos, David Villa, Pirlo - they're massive, massive names in Europe.

"It's only going to get bigger and bigger, there's no doubt about that. The league is only going to get stronger.

Kaka is Orlando City's star man
Image: Former AC Milan star Kaka is playing for Orlando City

"Players I've played with are calling me up now from England and Spain and are really, really desperate to come over here because they can see how much the league has grown and because of the lifestyle as well."

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While more players from Europe have flocked to the MLS in recent years, there has not been as much movement in the other direction.

Matt Miazga recently joined Chelsea from New York Red Bulls and DeAndre Yedlin signed for Tottenham from Seattle Sounders, but Keane admits it might take a while for more American players to move to the Premier League.

Chelsea's new signing Matt Miazga at the Cobham Training Ground
Image: Matt Miazga recently joined Chelsea from New York Red Bulls

"There are definitely a few players that are good enough," he said. "Is there going to be an influx of a load of players? Not at this moment in time.

"In the next five, six, seven years can I see it happening? Definitely, because of the league and how much it has grown."

At the age of 35, Keane appears to be entering the twilight of his career, but he says he hopes to continue playing for a while yet before turning his hand to coaching.

"I know I've got a good three or four years left in me. I think you have to treasure them," he said.

US President Barack Obama (C) poses with L.A. Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena (L) and Irish striker and L.A. Galaxy Captain Robbie Keane (2nd L) d
Image: Robbie Keane has got the chance to meet American president Barack Obama

"The day I have to hang the boots up will be a tough day for me to take. That's the reason I've started slowly going into coaching.

"I've done my A and B badges, when I do finish playing that will be the opportunity for me to go into that straight away.  Hopefully it will be a nice way to keep me involved in the game. It's been a tough two or three years doing it but I really enjoyed it. When I do hang up my boots, coaching is certainly something I look forward to."

Since Keane's arrival on the west coast, Galaxy have been the most successful team in the MLS, winning the MLS Cup on three occasions.

But they were beaten in the first round of the play-offs last season and Keane says the competition is getting tougher.

Captain Robbie Keane #7 of the Los Angeles Galaxy
Image: Keane lifts the MLS Cup in 2014

"In the four years I've been here, the games are certainly getting harder every year," he said. "I know we've won the title three out of the five seasons, but if you look at the games, they haven't been easy games in the final. We've had to work hard and last year is a prime example of that.

"The difference between this league and every other league is that, you know in England that all the "top five" teams have a chance of winning the league and the rest are there to make the numbers up if you like. Here, any team can win the league at any given time.

"Portland last year were one game away from going out against us. We were winning 1-0 at half-time and ended up losing 5-2. That was the downfall for us as well and that kick-started their run at the end of the season. It can change at any given moment, and that's why this league is very exciting."

MLS returns to Sky Sports on Sunday March 6 when Chicago Fire face New York City FC from 7pm and Portland Timbers host Colombus. You can watch both match live on Sky Sports 1 HD.

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The 2016 MLS season kicks off this Sunday with Chicago Fire v New York City and Portland Timbers v Columbus Crew live on Sky Sports 1 from 7:05pm.

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