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Brenden Aaronson sold to Red Bull Salzburg, will stay with Union through 2020


The long-rumored Brenden Aaronson transfer to Red Bull Salzburg is complete, with the U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder set to join the Austrian champions in January, after completing the current MLS season with the Philadelphia Union.

Aaronson is joining Red Bull Salzburg in a reported $6 million transfer, with the Philadelphia Enquirer reporting the figure along with $3 million in incentives, as well as a sell-on clause somewhere between 10 percent and 20 percent of any future sale of Aaronson by Red Bull Salzburg.

“Playing in Europe has always been a part of my dream. I’ve been able to accomplish the first part of my dream, to play for my home city, and am so excited for this continuation of my journey,” Aaronson said in a team-issued release.

Aaronson is in the midst of a breakout season with the Union, emerging as one of the league’s top playmakers, making the sort of plays that made it easy for Red Bull Salzburg to make Aaronson the most expensive academy player sale in MLS history.

“His dynamism and his presence on the field are extraordinary for a 19-year-old,” Red Bull Salzburg sporting director Christoph Freund told the Philadelphia Enquirer. “Despite his young age, he already has an excellent feeling for making the right decisions on the pitch.”


  1. This is probably the best case scenario for Brenden. So awesome to see!!!
    All props to Richie Graham. His vision and investment into the Union Academy has made this possible.

  2. Great thing the MLS, put in the infrastructure in ‘09. The MLS could only dream back then, to have an academy player sold for 6 mil!! Aaronson won’t be the last, the academy system is thriving!! 2 Youth titles in Concacaf, youth players in the MLS minutes have been increasing, teams signing homegrown talent left & right and some teams are winning, playing their youth (Union, FC Dallas). Players like E Willyamson (Timbers), Fontana (Union), Amaya (FC Cincy), who we’re apart of past U20 setups, are starting to contribute. I know, every academy player will not go on to Europe. My post isn’t saying that MLS academies are producing top European talent, but what I am saying is a non-dual citizen player has a chance to develop in the states before they’re 18. Every prolific league has an academy/ youth setup. I’m glad the MLS academies are bearing fruit!!! Good luck 2 BA & Salzburg next year.

    • MLS Teams and League office changed their view(s) a few years ago and realized that the best way to become financially stable was to become a development league willing to sell players onto Europe. Not for big $$, but at a reasonable price with sell-on clauses.
      Since most European clubs don’t want a 27 yr old player who’s untested…MLS teams started playing/promoting more of their youth and buying young S.A. talent to re-sell. This change in philosophy has seen more young players prepared to go abroad and succeed.
      The improved connections/partnerships MLS teams have developed with pipelines clubs has greatly improved as well. They’re now able to tap into long established relationships…NYCFC tied to Man City who has connections with multiple clubs/leagues in Europe. NYRB < Salszburg < RB provides a clear path of advancement.
      USA was always seen as an untapped/unrealized potential pool of talent. We just never had a cohesive way to develop it. It may not have happed as quickly as some would have liked…but it is happening. Adams, McKennie, Reyna, Richards etc… were just the first batch of MLS'S new business plan/model. Will hopefully see more, and more players take this path and succeed as it becomes more established.

      • Still need to get rid of the Homegrown territories. Minnesota got $75,000 for Caden Clark just because he grew up in Edina, never played for them. I’m worried by the II teams pulling out of USL to form a new reserve league.

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