In a couple weeks we enter silly season. During the month of January, the global football market will open up to leagues across the world and we can expect there to be a lot of action involving American players.
Why? There are lots of reasons for players to change clubs:
- Not getting enough playing time to develop / stay sharp
- Not playing at a high enough level of competition
- Not a good tactical fit
Here is a list of players that I believe could benefit from a chance in scenery starting with the most urgent:
IT’S DIRE, GET OUT
WING, Christian Pulisic, Chelsea
Is really dire? Maybe not, but he’s clearly undervalued at Chelsea and Pulisic is too good to not be playing a significant role somewhere. Chelsea is once again linked with every attacker on the transfer market, so clearly he really isn’t in the plans. Newcastle seems to be the favorite to land Pulisic in January and I love the fit.
WING, Konrad de la Fuente, Olympiacos
Konrad de la Fuente moved to Greece thinking he could get regular playing time after a managerial change at Marseille. Instead, Olympiacos signed a thousand foreign players even though only a set amount of foreign players (5) can make matchday squads, and de la Fuente has been an odd man out. Konrad isn’t in training with Olympiacos or Marseille right now and is instead looking for a new loan for the remainder of the season.
AM, Richie Ledezma, PSV
Ledezma had the choice to stay at PSV or find a loan this summer and he chose to stay, likely thinking he’d get more minutes than he has. He has the same choice to make in January and hopefully this time he chooses to leave — he needs more minutes to grow.
RB, Reggie Cannon, Boavista
Cannon is starting every week and that is good, but he is also playing center-back and I just don’t think he’s developed much since moving to Boavista. He didn’t make a World Cup roster which featured four right-backs, so maybe that is a sign that a change is needed? I think it is.
CM, Gianluca Busio, Venezia
There was a brief moment in time when Busio’s move to Venezia looked like a great one. That seems like a long time ago and now he is struggling to find starts for a club in the bottom third of Serie B. I am sure the market for Busio has weakened, but there still might be interest in Serie A or other leagues where he could benefit from a career reset.
CM, Eryk Williamson, Portland Timbers
I think it’s very likely Williamson played his last match in Portland. It’s been reported that LAFC would look to trade for him to replace Jose Cifuentes who is likely heading to the Premier League. There has not been a lot of reported interest abroad for Williamson, so a move within MLS is most likely.
RB, Justin Che, Hoffenheim
Che’s 18-month loan with Hoffenheim looked promising last year when he was getting some appearances towards the end of the season, but with a managerial change he has fallen out of favor and has been stuck with Hoffenheim’s reserve team. I am sure Dallas and Che can end the loan early and hopefully find a better opportunity in Europe. Another half season in MLS wouldn’t hurt either, but I don’t think Che and his team want to go that route.
THE RIGHT TIME FOR A CHANGE
LB, DeJuan Jones, New England Revolution
It’s not like his situation at New England is bad, he just hasn’t been able to get the attention of USSF. Perhaps a successful move overseas helps energize his stock.
LB, John Tolkin, New York Red Bulls
I don’t think Tolkin has anything left to prove at NYRB and he is ready to make the jump to Europe. Last summer he was connected Anderlecht in Belgium — that level feels like the right next step for him.
CF, Brandon Vazquez, FC Cincinnati
Vazquez had a breakout season last year and I think both he and FC Cincinnati should strike while the iron is hot. A top third club in the English Championship could be a great next step for him.
CB, Joshua Wynder, Louisville City
Wynder was a full-time starter in USL at the ages of 16 and 17 last season and of the top American prospects born in 2005. In order for him to continue to push himself and develop I think he should look to move to Europe or MLS this season. There has been lots of interest reported from both. If it is Europe, he will have to wait until he turns 18 in May, but he could sign a pre-deal like fellow LouCity player Jonathan Gomez did.
SS, Quinn Sullivan, Philadelphia Union
Sullivan likely isn’t happy with his usage rates last season, but Curtin and company were in a tough spot trying to find their young players minutes while pushing for a MLS title. With Cory Burke gone, there might be more striker minutes available within Curtin’s two striker system. That could be enough to entice Sullivan to stay, but my hunch is that he’d like to get his European career started this winter.
WING, Cade Cowell, San Jose Earthquakes
New San Jose Earthquakes manager and former FC Dallas manager and USMNT assistant coach Luchi Gonzalez says he has big plans for Cade Cowell. Are his plans to move him to right-back? Probably not, but I am not convinced another season in the South Bay is the right move for Cade. His development has stalled over the last two seasons and I think a change of scenery would be useful. Joe Scally’s club, Borussia Mönchengladbach has reportedly been interested as have some Premier League clubs.
CB, Sam Rogers, Rosenborg
Rogers is a former Seattle Sounders Academy player that has spent the last two seasons in Norway. He had a breakout season of sorts for third place finishing Rosenborg playing as the LCB in a three back system, scoring an impressive six goals and one assist. It would be nice to see Rogers see if he can elevate his game to an even higher level of competition.
DM, Danny Leyva, Seattle Sounders
The Seattle Sounders will have Leyva, Obed Vargas, Josh Atencio and João Paulo competing for midfield minutes next season which leads me to believe that one of the younger guys should leave to get the time needed to advance their career. Vargas and Paulo are coming off serious injuries, so it’s possible that Seattle holds on to all of the guys until the summer when there are less health concerns, but one could go in January. My bet would be Leyva because he is a more attractive prospect than Atencio, but Seattle seems to rate Vargas more.
CB, Jalen Neal, LA Galaxy
Neal is one of the most first team ready, young center-backs in MLS, but I am not sure he is going to get an opportunity from the Galaxy on the first team this year and it might not come next year either. I think it is time to move to another club within MLS or go abroad where he can play in a more competitive reserve league. Galaxy 2 won’t be in the USL next year, they will be in MLS Next Pro, a big step down in competition, so a loan to a USL club is also a decent option though I’d prefer a higher level than that.
HEAR ME OUT
WING, Tim Weah, Lille
Weah does not need to be playing right-back and I think there are better clubs and better fits for him out there. I’d like to see him leave even though I don’t think Lille is keen to move him, nor does the market seem to be too hot on him right now.
CF, Josh Sargent, Norwich City
I am tired of watching Josh play on the wing when he is the best striker on the team. It’s a waste.
GK, Matt Turner, Arsenal
Matt probably stays at Arsenal to continue their FA Cup and Europa League campaigns, but I think Matt has proven he should be a starting goal keeper for a pretty good club. I’d like to see him do that sooner rather than later.
CB, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Celtic
CCV has achieved great success and stability at Celtic, but I also think he runs the risk of stagnating. I would like to see Carter-Vickers move to a better league as soon as he can so he can continue to grow.
CF, Haji Wright, Antalyaspor
What more does Wright have to prove in Turkey? He clearly can rack up goals in that league. I’d like to see him move to a better league and see if he can continue to be an efficient goal scorer.
All of the guys are in pretty good club situations because they all have key roles and the competition level is fine based on where they are at in their career.
CM, Yunus Musah, Valencia
There are some big clubs after Musah (Arsenal, Chelsea, Inter Milan), but he’d likely take a hit in playing time initially so I am not sure that is best for him right now. The counter is that nothing is certain and maybe Musah needs to take this opportunity while it is here.
CM, Weston McKennie, Juventus
Juventus seems like a turbulent situation and perhaps a move to the Premier League would be best for McKennie. Tottenham has been after McKennie for what seems like multiple years.
LB, Jedi Robinson, Fulham
Robinson and Fulham have been a great story in the first half of the Premier League season, but will they be able to keep it up? Newcastle is reportedly preparing a 15M offer for Robinson and that could be a better long term play for him.
CM, Johnny Cardoso, Internacional
Cardoso is coming off his best season as a pro and his club finished second in the Brazil. Spanish and Italian clubs seem in on him and a move seems inevitable, but another year in Brazil would not be the worst thing.
DM, Tanner Tessmann, Venezia
Tessmann is playing some of the best football of his life right now and the new manager trusts him as Venezia fight for their lives in Serie B, but there is reported interest from Serie A clubs. My gut tells me Tessmann should stay and help keep Venezia in Serie B, ride the form that he is in and perhaps he will have even stronger interest in the summer.
CF/AM, Jesus Ferreira, FC Dallas
Ferreira and Dallas are in an interesting position. Ferreira had a great season last year and Dallas looks like an emerging side in MLS as well. Ferreira also signed a designated player contract last year so his options are more limited in finding clubs abroad that will meet his salary requirements, but Ferreira is at a very critical age for development and he may not be able to grow much more in MLS, so, he likely needs to leave at the end of the next season at the latest. My guess is Dallas is going to go for a MLS Cup this year and then look to rebuild in 2024.