An early look ahead to the summer transfer window - who moves? Who stays?
April 27, 2022
THE WINTER TRANSFER window in January 2022 was a very busy time for American players. Lots of players were sold to European teams or left on loans with options to buy. There were also moves among American within Europe.
This summer might not be quite as busy. I don’t think there will be nearly as many Americans moving out of MLS team due to the heavy drain the previous 12 months. That well needs to replenish. Still, there could be some.
As the 2021/22 European winds down and the 2022 MLS season heads to midseason, here is a look at players who are putting themselves as ones to move this summer
Aaronson has become the big American prize to move this summer. After having arrived in Austria in January 2021, he has won two Austrian Bundesliga titles, is aiming for his second Austrian Cup this weekend, and has helped his team advance out of the group stages of the Champions League.
He hasn’t just been along for the ride, he’s grown into becoming an impact player for them. He’s clearly ready for bigger challenges and there should be plenty of suitors. His value has never been higher for Salzburg and it makes all the sense in the world for them to sell.
It’s been tough to read Dest’s situation at Barcelona since Xavi took over in December. There were reports he was being shopped, and then he was the backup to Dani Alvaes. He’s been dealing with injuries and he’s also been starting when healthy.
The best guess is that Barcelona would listen to offers but offers would have to be high as he is still a valuable asset.
The on and off again USMNT defender will move on from Wolfsburg this summer when his contract is up. The club has already announced this. It has been a weird season for Brooks as his form struggled in the midseason and then there was a pair of negative articles written about him in Bild.
He’s one of the higher paid central defenders in the Bundesliga and his next deal is his last best chance to earn a high salary (he will turn 30 in January). As a tall, left-footed, experienced defender, he will have options and maybe his next deal takes him outside of Germany.
He’s said at some point he wants to play in the United States, but his salary demands are huge right now for his position. At this point, anything seems like it could be on the table. He will likely finish this season as the only American to play 2000 minutes in one of Europe’s top five leagues.
It’s been a brilliant season for Jordan Pefok but a tough season for BSC Young Boys. The USMNT striker has 21 Swiss Super League goals and 26 across all competitions. Meanwhile, BSC Young Boys will see its string of four Swiss titles snapped.
Most European teams outside the traditional Big Five will sell when they have the chance. Pefok is going to win the league’s Golden Boot and this is probably the big opportunity for the club to sell for some meaningful value.
The odds that he leaves seem high.
The young Chicago goalkeeper has attracted plenty of interest. It can be up for debate whether or not a move is actually good for him and there are plenty of reasons to think Chicago is the best place for him right now. It’s exceptionally hard for a teenage goalkeeper to find a starting job anywhere, and Slonina has one at 17. Chicago is also improved compared with seasons past. If he moves, he probably won’t be brought into start anywhere. He’ll get reserve games for awhile. Then the club will look to loan him out – and there is a chance it will be to a team not as good as Chicago.
But money talks. If Chicago is offered a large sum, a deal will probably get done.
The San Jose and U.S. U-20 winger might leave, or he might stay this summer. It can go either way. The recent departure of Mathias Almeyda as the head coach might give Cowell more opportunities for success. Right now, he has one goal and one assist at the start of the season. Plus, there is the U-20 cycle and leaving in 2023 after the U-20 World Cup might be the time when his value is the highest.
Haji Wright is red hot at the moment in Turkey’s Super Lig. He has six goals in his last six games for Antalyaspor and that has seen his stock rise dramatically. To understand why Wright will probably move is to look at his situation. He is there on loan from SonderjyskE in Denmark but he left SonderjyskE on bad terms. He refused to report to preseason last summer and then travelled to Turkey to force a loan. He began training with Antalyaspor without permission from SonderjyskE. SonderjskE expressed their frustration publicly to the media and there was even talks of lawsuits.
In the end, SonderjyskE agreed to loan Wright to Antalyaspor but demanded that he sign an extension for agreeing to the loan. But SonderjyskE is set to get relegated from the Danish Superliga this season.
SonderjyskE is going to have to sell Wright and they’re probably going to accept the highest bidder without any concern over it being the best fit. SonderjyskE needs money, Wright is playing well, there is bad blood between the two parties, and Antalyaspor probably won’t be able to compete with the incoming bids.
My guess would be that he moves up within the hierarchy of Turkish clubs. He lacks a EU passport, has no USMNT caps (as of now), he’s not very young anymore at 24, and has unimpressed in Germany and Holland. The big Turkish clubs tend to be aggressive in buying from the smaller Turkish clubs and there is a lot of internal movement withing that league.
It’s been a tougher season for Matt Miazga. He has made just 11 appearances for Deportivo Alaves this season – and most of those minutes have come in the beginning of the season. Alaves is also deep in the relegation zone of La Liga and the chances for survival seem bleak.
Miazga, 26, has now played for the first team at seven different clubs in seven different leagues: New York Red Bulls, Chelsea, Vitesse, Nantes, Reading, Anderlecht, and now Alaves. The last five have come while he has been on loan from Chelsea. Miazga has also said that he wants to find a permanent attachment to a club.
It seems likely that he’s not going to stick around at Alaves after relegation. But where would be next? Does he try for another league or does he consider domestic options back home? It seems like everything would be under consideration as he is entering into his prime. He was paid well at Chelsea but his next contract will likely be the last big payday of his career – which will probably take him past his 30th birthday.
The Roma fullback recently completed a loan to Kortrijk in the Belgian top tier. Reynolds, 20, played relatively well but the team won just once in its final 14 games (most since Reynolds arrived) to tumble out of the playoff positions. Now his seasoned ended in early April.
There is a lot to consider from Roma’s point of view. One that isn’t talked about much are tax implications. A recent tax law was passed to help Italian clubs become aggressive in importing players. Under the law, players who move to Italy from abroad, 50% of their salaries become exempt. For example, a player earning $8 million would only be taxed on $4 million. But if the player is loaned for an extensive period and doesn’t meet the requirements, the full tax is required. As in most of Europe, Italian clubs pay both the salary and the tax and the players receive salaries net of tax.
There is a possibility that another loan outside of Italy would make Reynolds far more expensive to Roma. There are some ways to avoid or alleviate that - the club he is being loaned to would have to pay more or all of his increased salary.
If Reynolds doesn’t return to Roma, perhaps he can get a loan within Italy. If it isn’t within Italy, maybe a full transfer is worked out further up the chain in Belgium.
It’s been a tough season for Tyler Boyd, 27, who has been on loan at Rizespor from Besiktas. This weekend, Rizespor will likely be formally relegated from Turkey’s Super Lig. Three years ago, Boyd had an enormous rise over a five month in Turkey with Ankaragugu (on loan from Vitoria Guimarães in Portugal). That saw him bought by Besiktas. Things never quite worked out for him there and he went on a pair of loans – first to Sivasspor and now to Rizespor.
This season he has one goal and two assists over 27 games, and he has one more year left on his deal with Besiktas.
It seems unlikely that he stays with Rizespor in the second tier or returns to Besiktas. Besiktas probably won’t ask much for him and his market is probably elsewhere in Turkey, back to Wellington in the A-League, back to Portugal, or perhaps an MLS team will offer. LA Galaxy were reportedly watching him last year.
With every passing week it seems likely that Venezia will be relegated. They are now six points deep and in last place – with five games remaining.
Venezia will need to cut salary upon relegation. Playing in the Penzo doesn’t generate much revenue. Busio was an expensive import last summer and he has played a lot of minutes this season. He’s a talented player and a good passer. Yes, he has plenty he needs to work on but he has probably shown enough of an upside to remain in Italy.
The DC United homegrown winger is still young at 19 and ASN understands there is some interest from Belgium and Denmark for him. He’s talented and simply needs to go to a place where he can play. He’s been patient in terms of trying to break through in DC United and the club’s recent coaching change could help him, or force a move quicker – whether it be a loan or a transfer.
Tim Ream, 34, has just completed another strong season leading Fulham to promotion back to the Premier League. It was his third successful promotion of his career.
At some point a return home seems in the cards and St. Louis will be in its inaugural year. It is a matter of when. He could stay with Fulham and likely remain as a backup – as the Cottagers will surely build up their backline for the Premier League. Or he could sign at home now and perhaps play somewhere else on loan until next season.
It might happen this summer, or it might happen in the winter or the following summer. But he is a player to watch for a potential move.
Matthew Hoppe is coming off a very tough season for Mallorca where he has played 128 La Liga minutes so far. He’s dealt with some injuries but has been an unused substitute most of the time.
He’s not a teenager anymore. At 21, he needs to play, and he can ill afford another lost season. Staying at Mallorca seems like a very risky move that could result in more time on the bench. As MLS Soccer and The Athletic have reported, Atlanta has been in pursuit. He could do far worse than playing in front of huge crowds and alongside Josef Martinez, Luiz Araujo, Thiago Almada, and Miles Robinson. If Atlanta is going to play him and pay him well, he should consider it.
Hoppe earned a lot of recognition for an 11-day span in January 2021 when he scored five goals in three Bundesliga games for Schalke. At the Gold Cup he showed promise but was also raw. He is yet to show what he can do on a consistent run – and I think he knows that is now critical.
One of the stars of the 2019 U.S. U-20 World Cup team is yet to see his career gain traction. His time at Hannover was awkward and since he signed for Norwich in 2020, it has been even more unusual. His loan to Telstar in the Dutch second tier was promising but then cut short so he could play with Norwich’s reserves. His loan to Porto B resulted in no playing time. Now on loan to Livingston in the Scottish Premiership, he struggled in his only start (given to him due to an injury to Bruce Anderson) and has since been limited to late-game sub appearances. He doesn’t have a goal or an assist.
Soto has one more year left on his contract with Norwich. It’s hard to see Norwich having any need for him – when they struggle to get production out of Josh Sargent. Norwich is likely going to push for a quick bounce back to the Premier League after relegation this year.
Would Livingston be willing to keep him for another year? Perhaps. Or will Soto push for something else? It’s hard to predict with him.
Uly Llanez, 21, still has two years remaining on his deal with Wolfsburg, but he is in a tough spot. He is not ready for the Bundesliga with Wolfsburg. His first loan to Heerenveen went poorly – mired in injuries and difficulty in fitting in. He is wrapping up a season-long loan to St. Poelten in the second tier of Austria where his club is in eighth place with no chance of promotion.
In 22 appearances, Llanez has been okay with three goals and three assists but he has not stood out at this level.
So, what’s next? Wolfsburg is still almost certainly out of reach. It’ll be tough for him to find another loan or a transfer within Europe that is significantly higher than where he is at now. There are plenty of players in the Austrian second tier alone who are his age and who produced more.
Would there be takers back home in the United States? A loan would probably require Wolfsburg to eat a lot of salary. His three caps with the U.S. team still resonate here, but Wolfsburg will have to absorb the risk. Otherwise, another loan in St. Poelten could be in the cards – assuming they keep their license in the 2.liga. Wolfsburg has a partnership with St. Poelten, so it keeps him in the system.
Reggie Cannon has now been at Boavista for nearly two years. There has been interest elsewhere at times and he nearly once had a deal for Fulham completed last year. He’s been better this season in Portugal and has continued to play a role in the national team.
It will be a close call. Leaving in a World Cup year is tough for players on the edges of the team. Perhaps he will be more valuable in January after the World Cup. But Boavista always seemed like a first step in a European journey and a third full season would make for a very long first step.
Not all the players who are relegated or who struggled this season will be on the move. Here is a look at players who I think stay.
After starting the season with Werder Bremen in the 2.Bundesliga (where he scored two goals in the opening game to match the two goals he has scored for Norwich this season) Josh Sargent and Norwich are set to be relegated. But unlike Werder Bremen last year, Norwich’s relegation isn’t a surprise. Sargent knew what he was walking into with the newly promoted club. Running away from another relegation doesn’t seem to make sense.
Cameron Carter-Vickers was named to the Scottish Premiership team of the season while on loan from Tottenham. He will likely win a title with Celtic and help get them into the Champions League. Yes, perhaps lower-tiered Premier League teams become interested but Carter-Vickers is playing the best soccer of his career and Celtic might find a way to pay Tottenham’s huge asking price.
George Bello and Arminia Bielefeld are in the relegation zone. But Bello knew he was joining a relegation battle. He’s also young and probably hasn’t done enough to force another transfer. The 2.Bundesliga probably wouldn’t be a bad spot for the left back who is still just 20.
Erik Palmer-Brown has been very good for Troyes. It has given him an extended run in a European top-five league. It has also opened the door to the national team for him. In a World Cup year, that makes it exceptionally risky to move on. He might have interest elsewhere but now is not the time to leave a good situation in a top five league. Troyes is in a relegation battle that has become tougher than expected the past two weeks. If they go down, then Palmer-Brown should leave.
Tanner Tessmann and Venezia are cruising towards relegation. Unlike Busio, who is more expensive, Tessmann seems like a good young player to develop in Serie B.