It’s now January 2022, which means the winter transfer window is officially open for business. What lies ahead for some American players based domestically and in Europe?
Unlike some of us who head out to stores or search online for sales during the holiday season, the shopping period for soccer clubs comes in January. And as with previous windows, it promises to be a crazy month with clubs making moves to reinforce their squads for title pushes, European spots, or stave off relegation.
American players will be in the mix of the transfer bonanza as speculation has gone on for months about their possible destinations.
From the rumors of Christian Pulisic getting interest from La Liga and Serie A, to Sergino Dest allegedly being courted by English Premier League and Bundesliga clubs, everything will come to fruition before the door closes at the end of the month.
With that being said, here’s a rundown of the players who have been linked over the past few months to moves to other clubs.
Some deals were already completed well before the January window, as several young American talents will try to work their way through the ranks to earn a spot on the first team of their new clubs.
The most noteworthy is Caden Clark. The teenager will take his talents from the New York Red Bulls to Germany, where he has signed with RB Leipzig.
Jonathan Gomez, who came through the FC Dallas academy before moving on to Louisville City in the second-division United Soccer League, is heading to Spain where he will start with Real Sociedad B in hopes of being promoted to the first team.
Kyle Duncan will be making his second trip to Europe as he signed with Oostende in the Belgian Pro League. He’ll be hoping this time around it will be a success after a two-year stint with Valenciennes in France’s Ligue 2.
What are we looking at in January?
Several players in Europe and the United States have been linked with moves to clubs. Instead of going through everyone, let’s look at those who have been mentioned heavily in the press.
Christian Pulisic (Chelsea)
Out of all of the players linked to possible moves in January, the 23-year-old is in a very precarious position.
After moving to London in the summer of 2019 and trying to fit into the team, Pulisic went on a tear, scoring 11 goals and registering 10 assists in all competitions. That performance led to him being named among the nominees for the Premier League Young Player of the Season award.
However, since going down with a hamstring injury in the 2020 FA Cup Final in August 2020, the winger has found himself in and out of the lineup. Even when healthy, he’s had to fight for time with the likes of Kai Havertz, Hakim Ziyech, Callum Hudson-Odoi, and Timo Werner.
Now, the transfer rumors have ramped up with both Liverpool and Barcelona reportedly showing interest in bringing in the winger. Even Serie A side Genoa, through their coach Andriy Shevchenko, has targeted the young American.
A move to Spain or a fellow Premier League rival is credible, but Genoa would be a stretch.
However, it might be unlikely that Pulisic leaves Stamford Bridge in this window. The way the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the finances of clubs, Chelsea will not be able to recoup a majority of the money they shelled out.
The other issue that could stop a transfer is the Blues’ schedule in the second half of the season. As they have a chance to claim silverware in four competitions, it will be all hands on deck, and Pulisic will be needed to keep the squad fresh.
Unless there is some shock offer, the summer window is when we’ll have to wait and see what Chelsea does with their number 10.
Weston McKennie (Juventus)
If there is any transfer that could go through in January among the American contingent, this is one of the two that has some traction.
The Texan has adjusted well to Italian soccer following his season-long loan to the Bianconeri in 2020 which then led to them signing him permanently. Even with the man who brought him in, Andrea Pirlo, now gone from the sideline, he’s found a way to fit into Max Allegri’s plans this season, playing 18 games in all competitions and scoring two goals.
However, Juventus has found itself in a bind. With a massive wage bill on top of struggling in Serie A this season, and recently coming under investigation by Italian authorities over transfers, they will need to offload several players. McKennie may reluctantly be one of those players.
It appears Tottenham are the frontrunners in this race and they have the advantage in gaining the signature of the 23-year-old. With Spurs’ Managing Director of Football Fabio Paratici, the man who brought McKennie to Juventus, and Antonio Conte at the helm, London could be the ideal destination if the two clubs can agree to a transfer fee.
Another London club, West Ham United, has also been mentioned as they could put up a fight with Spurs for the services of McKennie.
Daryl Dike (Orlando City)
After an impressive loan period at Barnsley in the first half of 2021 and bagging ten goals in an injury-riddled MLS season, there are a few clubs that may be putting in offers for the Oklahoma native.
At the top of the list is West Bromwich Albion. The English Championship side has had their eye on the 21-year-old for a while and it has been confirmed recently that they have made an official approach to Orlando City.
West Brom may not be the only club that comes in with an offer for the former University of Virginia Cavalier as Premier League clubs like Crystal Palace and Leeds United have reportedly shown interest in bringing him in.
Don’t be surprised if clubs from Italy’s Serie A come in with offers as well as it’s been reported that two to three clubs have Dike in their sites as well.
Will Orlando agree to a permanent transfer or another short-term loan for the striker?
Sergino Dest (Barcelona)
The second transfer that could likely go through in January is the 21 year-old full-back, as Barcelona look to raise funds to sign players that are on head coach Xavi’s wish list.
Unlike fellow Barca teammates Samuel Umtiti, Philippe Coutinho, and Neto, players that the club wants to offload, Dest still has a lot of potential that has many of Europe’s top clubs willing to take a chance on him. And according to his agent, there are plenty of suitors that would love to bring him in.
At the top of that list is Bayern Munich, a club that competed with Barcelona to sign Dest last year. They appear to have not lost interest in him, and if reports are true, it appears that he is open to a move to the German champions.
However, it seems like Bayern may not be the only club that comes to make an offer for the Dutch-born right-back.
Chelsea has apparently shown interest in recent days, but they are not looking to play him at right-back. With Ben Chilwell ruled out for the rest of the season due to an ACL injury, head coach Thomas Tuchel could be looking for cover at the left-back spot as he only has Marcos Alonso available. Arsenal has also been linked with Dest.
As Barcelona has brought back 38-year-old Dani Alves and looks to sign Cesar Azpilicueta, who will become a free agent when his contract with Chelsea expires in the summer, it might be a good idea for Dest to move to a club where he feels wanted.
Brenden Aaronson (RB Salzburg)
RB Salzburg will be playing in the next stage of the UEFA Champions League, so there won’t be a move for the attacking midfielder in January. However, that hasn’t stopped the interest from clubs.
With three goals and seven assists in all competitions this season, the 21-year-old has been one of the key players for the Austrian champions as they look set to defend their league crown. However, if they can make a deep run in the Champions League, his stock is only going to go higher.
Currently, AC Milan appears to be monitoring Aaronson’s progress. The Italian team is looking to the future and it’s possible that he could be a great addition to their young squad as they aim to restore themselves among the elites in Europe.
Leeds United has also been mentioned as of late as they reportedly want to sign him in the winter transfer window. However, the Whites may be priced out of a move for the former Philadelphia Union man as Salzburg will only look at making a deal in the summer. That will leave bigger clubs with a chance to sign him.
Ricardo Pepi (FC Dallas)
If the report from Transfermarkt is to be believed, Pepi’s future is already locked down as he is allegedly headed to Germany to play for VfL Wolfsburg.
As there has been no confirmation of the deal yet, the rumors continue on the future of the striker.
One report says that Wolfsburg has not yet signed the 18-year-old but is ahead of the likes of Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, and Ajax to sign him.
We’ll finally know where he’ll end up when the new year arrives.
Who else could move in January?
The end of the MLS season could see several players make the move to Europe in the winter.
Atlanta United’s Miles Robinson could be on his way out as Premier League and Bundesliga clubs have been looking at the center-back.
Robinson’s teammate, George Bello, might be looking at a move across the Atlantic as well, as Watford has supposedly made an inquiry on the left-back.
After coming off winning the MLS Cup with New York City FC, James Sands could be heading to Scotland’s Premiership as Rangers could make a move for the midfielder despite signing a five-year deal in March.
The Colorado Rapids’ Cole Bassett finished the year by scoring his first international goal in his USMNT debut against Bosnia and Herzegovina. Now, he could be on the move in the winter as clubs in the Netherlands, England, and Spain may put in bids for the midfielder.
January is going to be a wild month for transfers. With the World Cup months away, it will be interesting to see who moves and how much of a risk it will be as the competition for one of the 23 spots only intensifies.
Yanks Abroad will be keeping a close eye throughout the month to see what happens.