USMNT striker Ricardo Pepi cleared to make FC Groningen debut

Ricardo Pepi has been cleared to make his debut for FC Groningen this weekend, the club announced Thursday.

The United States international joined the Eredivisie side on loan from FC Augsburg during the January transfer window in a bid to rediscover some form with the 2022 World Cup fast approaching.

Pepi only joined Augsburg from FC Dallas back in January for $20m – the highest fee ever paid for an MLS homegrown player. However, the forward has struggled for form in the Bundesliga, failing to score or assist a single goal in 16 appearances, while he’s often been played out of position.

The 19-year-old is yet to feature for Groningen but could make his debut in their away trip to Cambuur this weekend after the club announced on Thursday that Pepi has received his work permit.

As reported by 90min, there is no permanent option in Pepi’s loan, with Augsburg still fully committed to the striker’s future development.

However, Groningen is seen as the best place for his development right now. The Pride of the North have some of the most creative players in the Eredivisie within their ranks right now, including Dutch midfielder Laros Duarte and Slovakian playmaker Tomas Suslov.

What’s more, Groningen, who currently sit 12th in the Dutch top-flight, sold their top scorer from the past two seasons, Jørgen Strand Larsen, to Spanish side Celta Viga during the summer transfer window, meaning Pepi should get plenty of chances to impress.

Pepi’s breakthrough at FC Dallas saw him register 19 goals and four assists in 59 appearances for the club across all competitions – including 13 goals in 31 regular-season matches during the 2021 MLS campaign.

At international level, Pepi hit three goals and two assists across his first two caps for the United States Men’s National Team to help them qualify for the 2022 World Cup – though he’s managed just one assist in nine caps since then.

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