By Clemente Lisi – NEW YORK, NY (Jul 31, 2023) US Soccer Players – European clubs are in the midst of preseason training and the summer transfer season continues to produce plenty of speculation. August ushers in the start of a new season following a summer loaded with players movement, especially among USMNT players who are based in Europe.
A number of them are playing for different clubs, with Europe’s top five leagues starting over the coming weeks. Many of these players we last saw earlier this summer when they helped the US win a second consecutive Concacaf Nations League. Here’s a look at four USMNT players who have changed uniforms this summer and what each will contribute to their new clubs.
Christian Pulisic (Chelsea to AC Milan)
Pulisic signed with AC Milan in July after four seasons with Chelsea. In Pulisic, the Italian club get a player who is fast and can shoot with both feet. Pulisic’s arrival in Italy has generated lots of interest and fanfare, a good thing for him and American soccer, and club officials have already had plenty of praise for Pulisic’s abilities.
Milan is expected to compete for the Serie A title and in the Champions League, where last season they reached the semifinals. Pulisic is expected to get plenty of opportunities. Starting on August 21, the 24-year-old attacking midfielder will face teams who play in a league known for its defending. It will serve as a different test for Pulisic.
Tim Weah (Lille to Juventus)
Another American headed to Serie A is Weah, who signed with Juventus from Lille. Weah has already created a lot of attention. The big question is what position will the 23-year-old play. He featured most of last season as a full back at Lille, although he regularly plays as a right winger for the USMNT. Juventus coach Max Allegri has been known to rotate players and positions. For example, he played winger Federico Chiesa as a left back for part of last season.
Weah will have to adapt to a new league and country, going head-to-head against some hard-nosed defending should he be given a chance up top. As a right back, Weah, an excellent dribbler with speed, could also prove exciting. Allegri often likes to play with three in the back and favors the use of ball progression during the offensive phase, where all ten field players are expected to play a role.
Brenden Aaronson (Leeds to Union Berlin on loan)
Aaronson moves from a season in the Premier League to one in the Bundesliga, a league where Americans have generally performed well in recent years. The 22-year-old midfielder joined Leeds last summer from Austrian club Red Bull Salzburg, now spending the season with Union Berlin on loan after Leeds’ relegation.
Union Berlin finished a surprise fourth last season, qualifying for the Champions League. That gives Aaronson the opportunity to play in Europe’s top club competition. While Union Berlin will be competing on several fronts, Aaronson is a tactical player who the Bundesliga’s official website recently described as “a high-energy playmaker in the mold of Bayern Munich’s Jamal Musiala.” It’s high praise for Aaronson.
Folarin Balogun (returns to Arsenal after loan to Reims)
One of the newest dual-citizens to choose to play for the USMNT, Folarin Balogun was one of Europe’s most-prolific scorers last season on-loan to Reims in Ligue 1. He finished fourth overall in goals, only eight behind top scorer Kylian Mbappe. That has raised his profile at his parent club as well as attracting significant transfer speculation
As all of those Ligue 1 goals showed, Balogun, 22, is a true center forward, dangerous whenever he has the ball. If he remains with Arsenal, he’ll have the chance to test himself at Premier League level. Should that transfer speculation prove true, his valuation is drawing interest from elite European clubs.
In this transfer window, USMNT players have become sought after across the continent’s top leagues. It’s another indication that Americans have developed into world-class players, featuring for storied clubs with ambitions of lifting trophies this season.
Clemente Lisi is a regular contributor to US Soccer Players. He is also the author of the new book “The FIFA World Cup: A History of the Planet’s Biggest Sporting Event.”
More from Clemente Lisi:
- Hugo Perez on El Salvador’s path to the World Cup, his playing career, and the future of American soccer
- 5 things from the 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup
- Preview: USMNT vs Panama and Jamaica vs Mexico in the 2023 Gold Cup semifinals
- Maurice Edu on covering MLS, moving into soccer broadcasting, and the 2022 World Cup
Photo by Ariana Ruiz – PI via ZUMA Press Wire – ISIPhotos.com