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'U.S. Havertz' Aaronson signs for RB Salzburg in multi-million dollar transfer

9:45 AM EDT 10/16/20
Aaronson 2020 Union
The young midfielder will spend the rest of the season in MLS before joining up with his new side

The Philadelphia Union has announced that the club has sold star midfielder Brenden Aaronson to Austrian side Red Bull Salzburg, who are managed by former New York Red Bulls manager Jesse Marsch.

Aaronson will join his new club at the end of the MLS season and will be eligible to play for the Austrian side after the international transfer window reopens in January 2021.

The Union, who have retained a sell-on clause, has received a $6 million transfer fee (£4.6m) for the midfielder, plus up to $3m (£2.3m) in performance bonuses, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. 

That fee is the largest in club history as well as the highest ever transfer fee for an American-based homegrown player.

“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,” said Aaronson.

“Before working towards a career overseas, my first goal was to play on the Philadelphia Union field. My family had tickets to the inaugural season, so I grew up watching the team from the very beginning and I remember hoping one day to be on that field scoring in front of the home crowd. I am so incredibly appreciative of all my coaches, my family, and the Philadelphia Union fans.

"Like I said, I was one of them once, and their support means everything to me. I’ll continue to give them everything I have through the end of the season and what I hope is a long playoff run. For me and for this club, this is just the beginning, and I look forward to what the future holds.”

Aaronson has risen to prominence this season with the Union, emerging as one of the breakout stars in MLS while earning links to clubs all over Europe.

Dubbed "U.S. Havertz" by German outlet Bild, the midfielder has provided four goals and four assists in 21 MLS matches this season.

The teenager is one of several talented youngsters currently featuring for the Union, with Aaronson serving as the biggest success story to date for the club's highly-regarded academy.

“I’ve worked with Brenden since he played on the Union Academy youth teams, and have witnessed his rapid development since then,” said Union head coach Jim Curtin.

“Brenden is a special player who is always looking to improve. Over the past couple of years, he’s become very developed technically and the distance and speed he covers over the course of a game are unmatched.

"I look forward to watching him continue to grow and develop at Red Bull Salzburg. In the meantime, we’re happy to have him through the end of our 2020 season and I promise fans we’ll make the most of our time with him.”

Internationally, Aaronson made his U.S. men's national team debut in February and was set to join the Olympic qualifying roster in March before the outbreak of the coronavirus.

RB Salzburg rose to prominence last season in the Champions League before seeing stars Erling Haaland and Takumi Minamino join Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool, respectively.

The club, which also produced current Liverpool star Sadio Mane, is in the Champions League once against this season, grouped with Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid and Lokomotiv Moscow.

“Brenden Aaronson is considered one of the greatest talents in the MLS, his dynamism and his presence on the field are extraordinary for a 19-year-old,” said Red Bull Salzburg sporting director Christoph Freund.

“Despite his young age, he already has an excellent feeling for making the right decisions on the pitch. With his way of playing football, Brenden is a perfect match for us and we are already looking forward to him."