Can MLS players transfer to Europe?
The new MLS season kicks-off this weekend with the likes of Shaqiri and Douglas Costa set to star. In recent years however, the league has seen its fair share of departures to Euro leagues.
Over the years, its been the big European names moving to MLS that have generated the headlines. David Beckham was one of the biggest names to play in the domestic US soccer league with the English player paving the way for the likes of Robbie Keane, Andrea Pirlo, David Villa, Frank Lampard, Zlatan and this year MLS sides have picked up the likes of Douglas Costa, Xherdan Shaqiri and Lorenzo Insigne.
As MLS has improved and developed over the years, an emerging trend now sees US talent moving oversees with many European clubs now employing talent spotters Stateside to comb MLS for future talent.
At present 58 US international players are plying their trade in LaLiga, EPL, Serie A, Bundesliga and other major European leagues with the likes of Christian Pulisic, Zack Steffen and Weston McKennie being high profile.
The latest high profile young American talent to make the leap across the pond was former FC Dallas player Ricardo Pepi as he signed on the dotted line for German side FC Augsburg.
Pepi's transfer to Bundesliga side Augsburg was completed for a fee of around 20 million dollars, a new club transfer record for FC Dallas. The deal makes Ricardo Pepi the second most expensive transfer in MLS history behind Miguel Almirón's move to Newcastle in January 2019. Pepi however, becomes the most expensive American signing to have swapped MLS for European football.
33 MLS players moved to Europe in Winter market
No other league in CONCACAF made more transfers to European clubs than MLS (33), which was followed by the USL (four), Canadian Premier League (two) and Liga MX (two). This includes players that were sold, sent out on loan, at the end of a loan spell or out of contract after the conclusion of the 2021 season. What's more, during this transfer window two players entered the list of the top five most expensive transfers in MLS history.
33 players that left MLS last month
Ricardo Pepi (USA) - from FC Dallas to FC Augsburg
Kevin Paredes (USA) - from DC United to Wolfsburg
Justin Che (USA) - on loan from FC Dallas to Hoffenheim
George Bello (USA) - from Atlanta United to Arminia Bielefeld
Auston Trusty (USA) - from Colorado Rapids to Arsenal
Daryl Dike (USA) - from Orlando City to West Brom
Chris Mueller (USA) - from Orlando City to Hibernian FC
James Sands (USA) - from NYCFC to Rangers FC
Cole Bassett (USA) - from Colorado Rapids to Feyenoord
Kyle Duncan (USA) - from NYRB to KV Oostende
Caleb Stanko (USA) - from FC Cincinnati to PAS Giannina
Dante Polvara (USA) - from NYCFC to Aberdeen
Jonathan Gómez (USA) - from Louisville City/FC Dallas Academy to Real Sociedad B
Jay Chapman (Canada) - from Inter Miami to Dundee FC
Richie Laryea (Canada) - from Toronto FC to Nottingham Forest
Julian Dunn (Canada) - from Toronto FC to HamKan
Clement Bayiha (Canada) - from CF Montréal to HamKan
Tajon Buchanan (Canada) - from New England Revolution to Club Brugge
Theo Bair (Canada) - from Vancouver Whitecaps to St. Johnstone
Ignacio Aliseda (Argentina) - from Chicago Fire to FC Lugano
Milton Valenzuela (Argentina) - free agent from Columbus Crew to FC Lugano
Riley McGree (Australia) - from Charlotte FC to Middlesbrough
Maikel van der Werff (Netherlands) - from FC Cincinnati to PEC Zwolle
Nani (Portugal) - from Orlando City to Venezia
Jesús Medina (Paraguay) - from NYCFC to CSKA Moscow
Mathias Jorgensen (Denmark) - from NY Red Bulls to Esbjerg FB
Vito Wormgoor (Netherlands) - from Columbus Crew to IK Start
Jukka Raitala (Finland) - from Minnesota United to HJK Helsinki
Erik Sorga (Estonia) - from DC United to Göteborg
Jamal Blackman (England) - from LAFC to Huddersfield
Marko Maric (Croatia) - from Houston Dynamo to Atromitos FC
Janio Bikel (Portugal) - from Vancouver Whitecaps to LR Vicenza
Issiar Dramé (France) - from NYRB to PFK Lviv