Midfielder Brenden Aaronson has been transferred from the Philadelphia Union to FC Salzburg, the clubs announced on Friday.
Aaronson, 19, will end the ongoing campaign with Philadelphia and then join Salzburg when the transfer window opens in January.
Sources have told ESPN that the initial fee is $ 6 million and an additional $ 3 million will be paid to the Union if certain incentives are met. One source characterized the add-ons as “very realistic”. The Union also receives between 10% and 20% of all future transfers, depending on how long Aaronson plays for Salzburg.
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The deal marks the first time any of the Union’s domestic players have been promoted to a European club, and the fee is the highest for a US-based domestic player in MLS history.
“It’s going to be a challenge, but it’s something I’ve wanted to do all my life and it was a dream of mine,” Aaronson told ESPN about the trip to Europe. “I am so happy that it is coming true.
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“I’ve had time in MLS and I think I’ve developed during that time. I think the earlier you come to Europe, the better you can develop. You can get stronger as a player there and I think I it challenges you more. I think the very situation I’m in is the perfect time. “
Sources have told ESPN that other European clubs have also been interested in Barcelona and are increasing their scouting activities in the US. Aaronson is one of the players considered.
A native of Medford, New Jersey, he joined the Union Academy at the age of 11. He has since worked his way through the Philadelphia Academy and signed his own contract in 2018. En route, he spent portions of two seasons at Bethlehem Steel, the Union’s subsidiary in the USL second-tier championship, before joining the first team of the 2019 season.
Aaronson drew 1-1 with Atlanta United on his MLS debut and was a steady and at times spectacular presence in the Philadelphia lineup. He has scored seven goals and seven assists in 48 league and playoff games while making an appearance for the US men’s national team.
Union sports director Ernst Tanner, who headed RB Salzburg’s academy for six years before arriving in Philadelphia, said Salzburg had been following Aaronson since summer 2019. He stated that this is not only the price that Salzburg is offering, but also the environment and the club’s willingness to sell players, which convinced Tanner that it is the right place for Aaronson to take the next step in to make his career.
The move is also an endorsement from the Union’s Academy, which alongside Aaronson has spawned players like defender Mark McKenzie and striker Anthony Fontana who contributed to the first team.
“It is every American prospect’s dream to play at the highest level here in Europe, and Brendan is the first proof of concept, if you will,” said Tanner. “This is absolutely our aim at the academy. We developed it for our first team and as soon as a player, especially a young player, develops above the level of the league and the team, he has to leave [to Europe]. “