So, who are the mystery Premier League team making bids for Long? Where will Long potentially end up in January 2020? Let’s deductive-reasoning-the-shit-out-of-this and figure it out.
General parameters on an Aaron Long transfer
It’s important to establish some general parameters and guiding points before diving in:
- Long’s transfer value isn’t going to prohibit anyone from buying him. If anything, it’s his likely low cost that will keep NYRB from selling him. Transfermarkt has him listed at just $1.71M USD. Let’s be kind and say, 1) that’s low given today’s market conditions, 2) center-backs are fetching more than they should (see Harry Maguire’s Manchester United transfer), and 3) somebody is putting a premium on him for being American. So what are we really talking about here, maybe $5M USD (£4M)?
- Long’s agents at Pro FC don’t have any obvious connections to Europe or Premier League clubs that would suggest, “oh yeah, he’s going there.”
- Long isn’t moving to England unless he’s starting.
- Given Long’s age, he’s not a long-term prospect ala Christian Pulisic or Weston McKennie. He’s going to be most valued by a club in need of a #4 TODAY. It’s got to be a club looking to solidify their place in European football or stay afloat in the Premier League / avoid relegation.
Who it’s definitely not
The first step in figuring out who it is would be figuring out who it’s not.
We can rule out Liverpool and Manchester City.
Both squads are competing for Premier League and Champions League trophies. Liverpool are well stocked at center-back. City lost their veteran leader #4 in Vincent Kompany. However, Long doesn’t fit the profile of the type of player they’d pursue (i.e. among the best in the world / one they can arrogantly wave their middle finder to UEFA’s financial fair play rules about).
Manchester United would be out too. While they need a world-class CB, OGS is targeting Brits who fit a certain mold (i.e. guys that remind him of ’90’s United players).
It’s not Tottenham. CB isn’t necessarily not a need for them. But they spent the funds they had. And Kieran Tripper’s transfer to Atlético Madrid would signal they’re after a left-back like Ryan Sessegnon before a center-back.
It’s not Chelsea. They’re under a transfer ban.
Definitely out: Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham, Chelsea.
Who it’s likely not
These Prem teams would most likely not be in the market for a center back / Long specifically:
- Arsenal: Have you seen Arsenal’s defense? Not good. One of those metal mannequins stuck in the ground around 18 yards out would be an improvement. However, they’re linked to William Saliba right now. He’s the more likely target.
- Aston Villa: They’ve already spent close to £100m including stocking their center-back shelves.
- Brighton: They brought in center-back Matt Clark already and most likely are playing a three-man backline.
- Burnley: They could use a little depth at center-back. Every CB on their roster though is more expensive than Long and I just don’t see a club interested in bringing the American over if he’s not going to start.
- Crystal Palace: More of a gut feel than anything. They have depth at center-back but not necessarily quality. He could fit. But Palace hasn’t been a traditional scouter of US talent.
- Everton: Could be interesting but they’ve already spent this summer and have quality starters.
- Leicester City: Would make more sense had those Harry Maguire transfer rumors come true.
- Newcastle: Actually pretty solid at CB and who the hell knows what their budget is or if they’re going to spend.
- Norwich City: Grant Hanley is a captain and Ben Godfrey is their second most expensive player (in terms of transfer value). Doesn’t seem like they’re in the market.
- Sheffield United: They have center-back depth although many are old af. Don’t have much of a budget.
- Southampton: With Wesley Hoedt back from loan, they have center-back depth.
- Watford: TURN DOWN FOR WATFORD added £5m ($6.9M USD) Craig Dawson already. Also, Watford heard that Sheffield’s center-backs were old and said, “Hold my beer.” Seriously they’re approaching Mick Jagger age. Long could contribute at Watford but he’s not necessarily an obvious need.
Most likely not: Aston Villa, Brighton, Burnley, Crystal Palace, Everton, Leicester, Newcastle, Norwich, Sheffield, Southampton, Watford.
So which Premier League teams are Aaron Long transfer options?
That leaves three teams: Bournemouth, Wolverhampton, West Ham.
Why Bournemouth? This is mostly a gut call. Bournemouth does business with MLS players (see: Brad Smith and Emerson Hyndman). While Nathan Aké is set at CB and Steve Cook is solid enough, Chris Mepham is inconsistent at best. There could be first team minutes for Long.
Why West Ham? They’re making a serious charge for a top 6 spot. That requires depth. Long isn’t going to break the bank. He’s talented. It would actually be great for American soccer as the Hammers will be a “league pass” (to borrow a NBA phrase) worthy. It just isn’t a glaring need. They are spending. He’d be an asset.
But why it’s Wolves (or should be). It just makes the most sense. Conor Coady is captain, yes. But he’s not that good. He’s poor at aerial duels and tackling, which are two things CB’s kinda need to be good at doing. Long would at least provide a boost in aerials.
Willy Boly is legit. Ryan Bennett is ok. Howeer, for a team with greater aspirations, he isn’t enough.
Wolves need depth. Assuming they qualify for Europa League group play, they’ll be stretched thin.
And as we’ve written and podcasted, this is a year a team like West Ham or Wolves can crack into the top 6. Quality depth will be key for both squads.
For all of those reasons, Aaron Long to Wolverhampton makes the most sense.
Now watch him end up in Manchester.