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MLS

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.

Update:
Ricardo Pepi, ¿amuleto de la suerte de Augsburg y Estados Unidos?
Alexander HassensteinGetty Images

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.

HARRISON, NJ - OCTOBER 30: David Beckham #23 of the Los Angeles Galaxy looks on against the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena on October 30, 2011 in Harrison, New Jersey. Galaxy defeated the Red Bulls 1-0. Mike Stobe/Getty Images for New York Red Bulls
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HARRISON, NJ - OCTOBER 30: David Beckham #23 of the Los Angeles Galaxy looks on against the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena on October 30, 2011 in Harrison, New Jersey. Galaxy defeated the Red Bulls 1-0. Mike Stobe/Getty Images for New York Red BullsMike StobeAFP

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.

US talent in all major European leagues

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. 

Soccer Football - Champions League - Round of 16 First Leg - Chelsea v Lille - Stamford Bridge, London, Britain - February 22, 2022 Chelsea's Christian Pulisic celebrates scoring their second goal REUTERS/David Klein TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
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Soccer Football - Champions League - Round of 16 First Leg - Chelsea v Lille - Stamford Bridge, London, Britain - February 22, 2022 Chelsea's Christian Pulisic celebrates scoring their second goal REUTERS/David Klein TPX IMAGES OF THE DAYDAVID KLEINREUTERS

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.

AUGSBURG, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 19: Ricardo Pepi of FC Augsburg (R) looks at match referee Daniel Siebert during the Bundesliga match between FC Augsburg and Sport-Club Freiburg at WWK-Arena on February 19, 2022 in Augsburg, Germany. (Photo by Alexander Hass
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AUGSBURG, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 19: Ricardo Pepi of FC Augsburg (R) looks at match referee Daniel Siebert during the Bundesliga match between FC Augsburg and Sport-Club Freiburg at WWK-Arena on February 19, 2022 in Augsburg, Germany. (Photo by Alexander HassAlexander HassensteinGetty Images

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

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