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News analysis

Mendez joins Ajax, Sabbi nears transfer plus Amon & Adams injury updates

Alex Mendez is on the move, and Emmanuel Sabbi looks to be leaving Hobro. The bad news is that injuries linger for Jonathan Amon and Tyler Adams while Bobby Wood's situation at HSV is bleak. ASN's Brian Sciaretta walks you through it
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
July 30, 2019
3:00 AM
ONE AMERICAN is on the move within Europe and another has his foot out that door a wave of big news hit on Tuesday morning. We also received an update on the injuries to two key players.

Not all of the news was great but at least it provides clarity.

Mendez to Ajax

In a move many did not see coming, Alex Mendez signed a three-year deal with Ajax in Holland. The move is particularly noteworthy because Mendez will now have to get paid at least the minimum salary for a non-EU citizen. That is typically the biggest hurdle for Americans to join clubs in that the league. But when they do secure a deal, it typically means the club believes in them and they will get at least a fair shot.

Under the current structure, the league’s minimum salary for non-EU passport holders is €436,202 for players ages 20 or older and €218,000 for players under 20. So the final year of Mendez’s deal will take him above the to threshold. On the field, it is a step up although Freiburg is typically among the more willing teams in the Bundesliga to play young players.

Mendez, 18, is a very good player who won U.S. Soccer’s Young Male Player of the Year for 2018. His game, however, is far from complete. He can shoot and he is a very good passer. He needs to work on his off-the-ball movement to become more involved in the game. He also needs to improve on his defense. At Ajax, he will have all the opportunity to overcome these weaknesses.

The likely bet is that Mendez will start at Jong Ajax in the second tier Eerste Divisie. If and when he moves up will come down to his performance there. But Ajax is typically never short of creative and skilled young midfielders. Mendez will have to perform extremely well to get to the top level, but if he does, he will be in one of the greatest shop windows in the world.

This is an absolute no-brainer for Mendez. He is going to get paid well and he will receive great coaching. How far he goes will be up to him. There is no guarantee that he will make it but his non-EU salary requirements suggests that the club believes there is a chance for it to work.

Sabbi likely on the move

Hobro manager Jen Hammer told the media today that U.S. U-23 winger Emmanuel Sabbi will likely soon be transferred and that he is receiving interest from within Denmark and elsewhere in Europe.

"I don't think we will be able to keep him," Hammer said. "If I was in a bigger club in Denmark, I would sign him. He is not a finished [product] because he can still add levels [to his play]."

Hammer added: "There is interest in him and the transfer window is working for us, because people watch our games and he delivered at a really high level against Randers until he unfortunately had to be subbed out because he suffered some kicks during the match."

It is easy to see why there is interest in Sabbi as he has scored in two of Hobro’s first three games to start the 2019/20 Superliga season. This comes on the heels of scoring in three straight during the relegation playoffs of the 2018/19 season to ensure Hobro stayed in the top flight. So between the two seasons, Sabbi has scored in five out of his last six Danish games.

Amon continues to be sidelined

Jonathan Amon, 20, continues to be out of action with Nordsjaelland with the club tweeting that the South Carolina native isn’t playing games yet because he isn’t physically able to do so – adding that he would be playing if he was ready.

This is tough news for Amon because injuries have sidelined him of quite a bit of time so far in his young career. He is still very much a raw player but has a big upside with his elite skill in 1v1 situations. But unless he can show himself to be healthy for most of season, it is going to hurt his ability to transfer to bigger leagues.

In his first season in 2017/18, injuries limited Amon to just 566 minutes in the Superliga for Nordsjaelland. In 2018/19, he played 1306 minutes in the league. So since his promotion to the club’s first team, he has managed just 1872 minutes.

Sonora leaving Talleres

American reporter Arch Bell dropped the news on Monday that 2015 U.S. U-20 World Cup midfielder Joel Sonora was on his way out at Talleres de Cordoba of the Argentine Primera. As Bell notes, the likely destination is another team in Argentina. 

This is an important season for Sonora who will soon be 23. Last year he began getting regular Primera minutes for the first time but most appearances were off the bench. This year he has to be in a situation where he can become a consistent contributor at the first team level. 

Adams still on the shelf

Tyler Adams, 20, is also dealing with an injury which has sidelined him for quite some time. After putting in a wave of great games for RB Leipzig, Adams began to miss time towards the end of the season with an adductor injury. He returned for the German Cup final but then was unable to join the U.S. team for the Gold Cup.

That injury has continued into the preseason where he is still not yet able to resume full training or participate in any friendlies. Today, a report from Kicker said the recovery was going slower than expected and that Adams was going to miss out on the opening round of the German Cup on August 11 and and into at least the first week of the Bundesliga season against Union Berlin on August 18.

Wood’s uncertain situation

Bobby Wood was an unused substitute in Hamburg’s 1-1 draw against Darmstadt in last week’s 2.Bundesliga season opener. The fact that Wood did not get off the bench despite his team needing a goal for a win at home was concerning.

Today a report came out of Germany that said Wood was the club’s third choice forward and that it might also bring in another forward this window. That paints a pretty bleak picture for Wood’s prospects of decent playing time this season – despite the fact he had a lot of success in the 2.Bundeslliga earlier in his career.

Moving Wood is a very difficult thing for HSV due to his enormous annual salary of near €3 million and any move would require Hamburg to take on a sizeable portion of it. But after struggling the past two seasons for teams that have been relegated out of the Bundesliga, what kind of market is there for Wood?

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