Aaronson, Reynolds and 10 USMNT youngsters set for European success

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With the likes of Christian Pulisic, Gio Reyna and Weston McKennie all thriving across the Atlantic, who are American starlets who will follow them?

Even with everything that occurred outside of the sport, 2020 was quite a year for American soccer.

It was a year that saw the likes of Sergino Dest and Weston McKennie make massive moves to European super-clubs while Christian Pulisic and Gio Reyna took the next steps in their promising young careers.

And then, once games restarted, the U.S. men's national team shone as the march towards the 2022 World Cup continues.

But 2020 is in the past and, given the success of several of those aforementioned names, clubs all over Europe are looking for the next American star.

The floodgates, seemingly, have opened as top teams from across the Atlantic are ready to pursue players while, unlike in recent years, MLS clubs are ready to sell them too.

Some have recently made the leap, with Brenden Aaronson and Joe Scally having secured their moves to Red Bull Salzburg and Borussia Monchengladbach, respectively.

Others look set to do so in the very near future, including Mark McKenzie and Bryan Reynolds. 

Teenage stars such as Caden Clark and Gianluca Busio are unlikely to be far behind either as big clubs continue to watch on.

Like last year, 2021 could be another big year for American soccer's youngest stars, so Goal has taken a closer look at 10 that could be bound for European success in the near future:

Brenden Aaronson

As of January 1, it was official: Brenden Aaronson is now a Red Bull Salzburg player.

Aaronson 2020 Union

The ex-Philadelphia Union star has linked up with former New York Red Bulls manager Jesse Marsch, a coach that has already seen the likes of Erling Haaland, Takumi Minamino and Patson Daka jump onto the radar of Europe's biggest clubs under his tutelage.

The hope is now that Aaronson can do the same, having emerged as one of MLS' brightest young stars during his time in Philadelphia.

Internationally, Aaronson also seems set to take a leap forward in 2021, having impressed during the USMNT's most recent camp.

The midfielder may just be a go-to starter for Gregg Berhalter by the end of 2021, with this year offering the young midfielder a major step up in level in terms of his club soccer.

Bryan Reynolds

A year ago, Bryan Reynolds was not even a first-choice starter for FC Dallas.

Now, the teenage full-back is seemingly bound for one of Europe's biggest leagues, showing just how bright a young player can shine once given the opportunity.

Reynolds FC Dallas

Entering the 2020 MLS season, Reynolds was back-up to another FC Dallas homegrown star, U.S. men's national team defender Reggie Cannon.

But, when Cannon was sold to Portuguese side Boavista, Reynolds jumped into the lineup and never looked back.

Now he is regarded as one of the brightest American prospects, having earned interest from the likes of Juventus, Roma, Fiorentina and Marseille in recent weeks.

Reynolds is expected to command a transfer fee nearing eight figures, potentially making the 19-year-old one of the most lucrative sales in MLS history.

Mark McKenzie

Aaronson is not the only Philadelphia Union star headed to Europe, as Mark McKenzie looks set to depart one of MLS' best talent factories for one of Europe's.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, McKenzie is set to join Belgian side Genk for a fee of $6 million, though the final price could yet increase.

McKenzie had been heavily linked with Celtic, with rumors also suggesting that he could be headed for England or Germany, but the central defender will instead take his next step in Belgium.

While the lights at Genk may not be as bright as those in the Premier League or Bundesliga, the Belgian club is known for developing some of the game's top stars.

Kevin De Bruyne, Thibaut Courtois and Kalidou Koulibaly all got their starts with the club, and the hope is that McKenzie will be the next to use Genk as a springboard into Europe's elite. 

Joe Scally

The wait is now over: Joe Scally is officially a Borussia Monchengladbach player.

Signed before he had even played an MLS minute, Scally's move to the Bundesliga outfit was announced in November 2019 as the defender signed on for a seven-figure transfer fee.

Until then, he remained on loan with New York City FC, only playing in four first-team matches before becoming a Gladbach player.

That does not seem to bother the German side, though, with head coach Marcus Rose saying that he expects the 18-year-old defender to jump right into first-team training this month.

Caden Clark

Caden Clark's meteoric rise with the New York Red Bulls was widely expected to lead to an eventual move to one of the MLS side's sister clubs, with arious reports having discussed a potential clause that would see Clark head to Europe when he turns 18 in the summer of 2021.

However, it appears the 17-year-old midfielder is on the radars of clubs outside of Leipzig and Salzburg.

Italian newspaper Tuttosport reported in December that Juventus are keeping an eye on the teenager, who netted three stunning goals in just eight first-team appearances for the Red Bulls.

Among those goals was one against eventual MLS Cup champions, the Columbus Crew, in a first-round playoff loss. 

Gianluca Busio

From the moment Gianluca Busio became the youngest MLS signing since Freddy Adu he has been under a microscope and, as we enter 2021, it appears several of the world's biggest clubs are among those taking a closer look.

The Sporting KC star's steady rise to the first team saw him become a regular starter in 2020, having truly broken through the season prior.

Gianluca Busio Sporting KC 2020

Now, the 18-year-old is reportedly being watched by Barcelona, have already handed debuts to two USMNT youngsters this season in Sergino Dest and Konrad De la Fuente.

But Barca are not the only club interested, as Busio - who holds Italian citizenship - has previously been linked to Fiorentina and Bayern Munich.

Tanner Tessmann

A training stint could be just that: a training stint.

But when that training stint is with Bayern Munich, there is reason to be excited.

That is exactly where FC Dallas up-and-comer Tanner Tessmann is heading for a short spell this winter, according to ESPN.

FC Dallas and Bayern have a strategic partnership, one which helped pave the way for Chris Richards to join the Bundesliga champions, and Tessmann is the next player that could benefit from a visit to the German giants.

Tessman, who joined FC Dallas after turning down a scholarship offer to play football at powerhouse Clemson, started nine games this past season and is expected to be a part of the U.S. Under-23s picture going forward.

Daryl Dike

Daryl Dike was far and away the most impressive rookie in MLS last season.

The Orlando City star scored eight goals and provided four assists during his first professional campaign, earning his maiden USMNT call-up in the process.

Daryl Dike, Orlando City and Victor Wanyama, Montreal Impact

His rapid rise has also caught the eye of Club Brugge, reports Nieuwsblad. The Belgian club were in need of a striker, and Dike is one player that the club was considering.

Though the Europa League outfit eventually secured the signature of veteran Netherlands international Bas Dost on a short-term deal, it is safe to say that European clubs are taking notice of Dike's rapid rise in MLS.

Julian Araujo

Julian Araujo still faces a decision at international level, as the defender will someday have to choose between the USMNT and Mexico.

And, at some point, he may also have to make a choice at club level too.

Julian Araujo LA Galaxy 02092019

Araujo is another player that has been linked with Juventus in recent weeks, as the Italian giants are apparently all-in on the Ameican market following McKennie's arrival.

While that move seems unlikely given Juve's pursuit of Reynolds, it does show has far Araujo has come in recent months.

After emerging in 2019, he became a true regular for LA Galaxy in 2020 and, with the club currently in transition, he will be a key building block unless a European club does come sniffing. 

Ricardo Pepi

Another FC Dallas starlet and another young American linked with Juventus.

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The reports linking Ricardo Pepi with the Italian champions may be the first to emerge, but they are unlikely to be the last.

At just 17, Pepi is already becoming a starting-caliber player in MLS, having scored two goals in 458 minutes in the regular season before adding another in the playoffs.

Heading into 2021, Pepi will almost certainly take on an even bigger role this season, putting him right in the shop window as European clubs continue to pay close attention to the starlets coming out of the FC Dallas system.

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