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Report: Villarreal joins race for USMNT forward Haji Wright


Haji Wright is already on the radar of several European clubs this summer and one La Liga club has reportedly joined the race for his signature.

Villarreal has made an opening bid for Wright, which Antalyaspor has turned down, Turkish outlet Aksam reported Friday. Villarreal’s €10 million bid was denied with the Antalayspor front office seeking at least €15 million, according to the report.

The 24-year-old leads the Turkish Super Lig club in scoring for the second-straight season, currently registering 16 goals in all competitions. Wright has two final matches on his schedule before entering an intriguing offseason this summer.

Scottish Premiership club Rangers previously made an offer to Antalyaspor for a summer transfer of Wright, which Antalyaspor also declined. Antalyaspor fans recently booed Wright in his return to action on May 22, following the striker’s dry spell in front of goal.

Antalyaspor sits 10th in the Super Lig standings with two matches to play.

Wright was also recently named to the USMNT’s preliminary roster for this summer’s Concacaf Gold Cup. The Gold Cup runs from June 16-July 16 across the United States.


  1. Not sure what to make of Wright. In the USYNTs his size and speed gave him an advantage. Once he got into the professional ranks he was a bit exposed for having a mediocure 1st touch, limited dribbling ability, and only so-so hold up play.
    He’s done reasonable well in Turkey, but not sure if he’s able to translate that to a better league or to the USMNT.
    Personally I see him tied for 4th in the US depth charts behind Balogun, Pepi, Sargent and tied with Pefolk.

    • I actually like his ability on the ball, especially for a dude so large. He’s got some slick moves, not quite Zlatan level but the dude can certainly juke and dribble. I do agree on his first touch, though – it’s improved but still too heavy – and you’re right that for a dude with such an imposing physique he is not nearly as good as you’d expect holding the ball up.

      Biggest problem I had with Wright was his movement and anticipation. That just wasn’t there his early years at Schalke and on the rare occasions he saw the field he seemed a step off the pace and lost and disconnected from the game and he did not seem to read the field well at all. You look at the difference in incisive movement between him and, say, Dike or Balogun, who are like razors in their ability to see it, time it, and slash defenses up and arrive on-sides and just in time to meet the ball, and it’s still pretty glaring. But that often comes down to a coach that can impart tactics and understanding, and Wright improved by leaps and bounds in that department in Turkey. He’s also a clearly intelligent guy with a good head on his shoulders, so you’d think he’s got the potential, anyhow, to really refine his game in that area too.

      I’m genuinely curious to see where he lands next. He does need a coach who will continue to develop his understanding, though, and that’ll determine whether he tops out at Championship/Turkey/MLS level (which are all pretty similar, IMHO) or whether he can take that next step into a Top-5 league.

  2. Injuries and the Earthquake derailed his second half of the season. I hope he goes somewhere that he can flourish still. He does have the tools to be a consistent 15 to 20 goal scorer.

  3. Intrestin’.

    I definitely think there’s some uncertainty about where his ceiling actually is. I know there is with me. I see the fancy moves, the dribbling, the physique and athleticism. I see his pedigree with the USMNT youth setup and Schalke. I also see a fair number of years in between now and then where he was knocking around Europe and not really catching on anywhere, before he finally emerged with Antalyaspor towards the end of the ’21-’22 season and started scoring goals for fun in Turkey and re-emerged with the USMNT, where he flashed some stuff in limited action, having a couple good games and a couple not-so-good ones, and then got a surprise call-up to the WC, and played a surprising number of minutes…and even scored a goal against Netherlands. (Albeit by accident.)

    Now I’m seeing a bunch of teams in the lower Prem and Championship, plus now in Spain, sniffing around with clear interest…but again, I suspect nobody’s quite sure where his actual level is. I look at him and I’m definitely not sure. I do think he’d likely be successful at the Championship level…but is he a Top-5-league-qaulity guy? No clue. Maybe. Or maybe it’s a field too far.

  4. Just stay away from the EPL and those trash fans. Tired of hearing and seeing abuse hurled at American players. Been happening since the ‘90’s.

  5. I want to see this. He will become the third American to suit up for the “Yellow Submarine.”

    Let’s make it happen!

  6. Cool! Playing for the Yellow Submarine.

    If this is true it has potential.

    Of course racism is pretty ugly in La Liga so there is that.

    • I’m with you on the racism front! Spain seems to be disgustingly racist, and as such I wouldn’t want to see any of our players of color going there to play


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