Five American MLSers that could move to Europe this winter

Written By Harrison Hamm on October 23, 2021

MLS continues to pump out players who are contributing in Europe. Most recently, Sporting KC product Gianluca Busio has helped bring Venezia out of the Serie A relegation zone.

The Champions League is littered with MLS products, and players like Mark McKenzie and Sam Vines have made moves to Europe in the past few months. There’s also Caden Clark and Tajon Buchanan, two talented young players who will move to RB Leipzig and Club Brugge after the MLS season is over.

Let’s take a look at some contenders to be part of the next wave.

Ricardo Pepi, FC Dallas

We’ll start with the obvious. Pepi has submitted his transfer request and agreed to personal terms with Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga, though that does not mean that FCD will sell him there. Dallas is reportedly holding out for more millions, and clearly wants to maximize his value as Pepi has already proved his bona fides as a voracious goal-scorer in huge international games with the USMNT.

Big teams are reportedly interested — Liverpool, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Inter Milan, and Ajax have all been mentioned. Pepi is still just 18 and knows how to put the ball in the net. He is also developing a nascent hold-up game and puts in dogged defensive work. Whenever Dallas decides to move him, he is widely expected to end up as the most expensive American transfer from MLS in history, surpassing Jozy Altidore.

Cole Bassett, Colorado Rapids

This summer, Bassett decided to stay put in Colorado despite offers from Benfica and an unnamed Dutch club. The 20-year-old wants to win with the Rapids and continue developing his game. Colorado is in third place and Bassett is one of their top players with four goals and three assists on the year in nearly 2,000 minutes.

A creative, technical midfielder, Bassett could see the rumor mill start swirling again this winter after his playoff run with the Rapids. European interest should only increase. Vitesse and Anderlect have reportedly poked around. To break into the USMNT depth chart, Bassett will probably have to level up.

Daryl Dike, Orlando City SC

It was only a few months ago that Dike was rampaging through the English Championship, nearly helping Barnsley win promotion. Dike has since underperformed a bit for the US, seeing Pepi sail by him on the forward depth chart, but he has continued scoring goals for Orlando City. Dike’s scoring, physicality, and hold-up play makes him a commodity.

England would make a lot of sense for Dike’s playing style. Watford and West Brom have been linked. Ideally, Dike would find a consistent starting role up top for a Premier League side. While Josh Sargent has shown that an EPL move is not always the right decision, Dike’s style suits England much better than Sargent, and he can do more with less.

James Sands, NYCFC

Sands, a deep-lying midfielder who has been one of the NYCFC’s best players this season, should be getting scouted heavily by European teams, though he has not yet been close to a move. The 21-year-old has the passing nuance and defensive maturity to slide right into high-quality soccer games. He has already been trusted by Gregg Berhalter to provide big minutes for the US, starting a road World Cup qualifier in Honduras last month.

It’s worth noting that Sands was part of the same class of Homegrown NYCFC players as Gio Reyna and Joe Scally, both of whom are now starters in the Bundesliga. Sands could be poised to join them sooner rather than later.

Justin Che, FC Dallas

Bayern Munich is the clubhouse favorite to sign Che, a 17-year-old versatile defender who has played quality minutes for FCD this season. Che went on loan to Bayern last winter and impressed everybody, rising from the U-19s to the B-team. After Dallas rejected lowball offers, Che’s value is growing, and there might be a bidding war for him this winter.

In addition to Bayern, there are reportedly other Bundesliga and Premier League clubs interested. Che is another product of the fruitful Dallas academy, and has benefitted from the first-team minutes that he has received.

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