With the transfer window closed across most of Europe, a summer of speculation involving US players has come to an end, for now.
Whether it was MLS to Europe, Germany to Scotland, or Austria to England, there were plenty of big moves for American players. Some moves saw growing talents arrive at big clubs, while others are taking shots at redemption ahead of the World Cup.
So, which American player made the best move this summer? Let’s rank the top 10:
From: Chicago Fire
Gaga Slonina is still finding his feet as a professional soccer player, but already his stock is high as the Chicago Fire’s No.1 with call-ups for the United States Men’s National Team.
But at just 18 years old, things got even better this summer as Slonina secured a record-breaking transfer to Premier League giants Chelsea.
The goalkeeper has remained on loan with the Fire for now, but Chelsea taking such an interest and beating off competition from the likes of Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, and Atletico Madrid for Slonina’s signature should tell you just how much faith they have in his ability.
The big question now is will he see a path to the first team?
From: Bayern Munich
With seven games and one goal for Bayern Munich at senior level under his belt, we already knew Malik Tillman was talented. What he needed was regular minutes.
This summer’s loan move to Rangers has provided just that, with the 20-year-old already a regular starter for the Glasgow giants. Not only that, Tillman has come up with a couple of big goals in Scottish Premiership and Uefa Champions League play, too.
A late run at USMNT contention is probably beyond Tillman, but at Rangers, he has the chance to impress plenty of watchful eyes south of the border.
From: Bayern Munich
To: Crystal Palace
Similar to Tillman, most were already aware of Chris Richards’ talent, but the youngster needed to play.
His only start at Crystal Palace so far has come in the EFL Cup, but the Eagles have a strong track record of developing youngsters.
Richards has looked promising in limited Premier League minutes and it’s only a matter of time before Patrick Vieira gives him more chances. That can only be a good thing for the United States as the World Cup comes around.
It’s safe to say Ricardo Pepi’s move to Augsburg has not worked out so far.
However, the Bundesliga side remain very committed to his future development, which is why they weren’t interested in putting a permanent option in his loan to Groningen.
Instead, they’ll be hoping he can rediscover his goalscoring touch at a club responsible for developing the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Arjen Robben, Luis Suarez, and more over the years.
A big few months await for Pepi in terms of his World Cup hopes.
Like Pepi, Matthew Hoppe was suffering at his European club, only his experience with Mallorca was far worse.
However, we all still remember his exploits at last summer’s Concacaf Gold Cup and with FC Schalke, where he became the first American to score a Bundesliga hat-trick.
Middlesbrough and the Championship feels like the perfect level for him to get back on track and send a few reminders to Gregg Berhalter.
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To: AC Milan
Sergino Dest’s situation at Barcelona was deteriorating fast and given how close to a nailed-on starter he is for the USMNT, it was important he found a solution, fast.
Moving to Italian champions AC Milan certainly isn’t a bad option. The 21-year-old should get much more regular minutes in a possession-dominant, attacking side, meaning he can show off his real qualities and continue to hide that slightly frail defensive underbelly.
From: RB Leipzig
To: Leeds United
Tyler Adams’ time at RB Leipzig will be looked back on as a success, but it was undoubtedly starting to feel like he needed a change.
It really couldn’t have come much better than moving to Leeds United. There, he’s reunited with his former New York Red Bulls coach and fellow American Jesse Marsch, linked up with USMNT teammate Brenden Aaronson, and is playing in the sort of high-octane pressing system that suits him so well.
Adams has already put in a few eye-catching performances and he’s just getting started.
From: Free agent
John Brooks went from USMNT and Wolfsburg regular to free agent in less than a year so, if he’s to make Berhalter’s World Cup roster, he had to get his next move right.
Benfica feels just that, far more than the reported move to Mallorca which broke down beforehand.
The Eagles play a similar high line to the United States, meaning Brooks can prove to Berhalter once and for all that he’s cut out for that system. Benfica also weren’t exactly blessed when it came to center-back depth, so minutes shouldn’t be a problem.
Just like almost every other area of the field, the USMNT are still working out their best defensive line-up, so this move gives Brooks a genuine shot at a comeback.
From: Young Boys
To: Union Berlin
Jordan Pefok’s trajectory continues to rocket upwards.
Fresh from a 27-goal, title-winning season in Switzerland with Young Boys, the 26-year-old striker sealed a move to Bundesliga side Union Berlin.
And Pefok has already hit the ground running there, with two goals and two assists in four Bundesliga games as Union have made an unbeaten start to the new season.
If he continues this form, there’s literally no way Pefok doesn’t go to the World Cup. In fact, he’d be the starting striker.
From: Red Bull Salzburg
To: Leeds United
As mentioned, Leeds United press, and they press hard.
It makes sense, then, that Brenden Aaronson has started his career there like a house on fire.
One of the best pressers in Europe, that’s exactly how Aaronson made a fool of Edouard Mendy to score his first goal for the club – after one had already been harshly taken from him and given as an own-goal.
Aaronson has always had the talent to be one of the United States’ most important players and at Leeds, that talent is being allowed to thrive.
The fans love Aaronson, and he loves them. This move looks to be just perfect.