Italian Serie A club AS Roma announced on Thursday that they have come to terms to sell the rights for Michael Bradley to Major League Soccer, bringing one of the most identifiable and successful American players back to the league where he got his start.
"AS Rome SpA announces that it has signed with Major League Soccer (MLS) a deal for the outright sale of the rights to the player Michael Bradley, for the sum of US $10 million," the club said in a statement published on ASRoma.it.
The club also made the pending move official with a farewell message via their Twitter account: “Grazie, Michael
#Bradley for taking part in this adventure with us: good luck!”
The fee would be the biggest incoming transfer fee in league history, topping the reported $9 million paid for the rights to Seattle Sounders forward Clint Dempsey last summer.
The Roma statement makes no mention of which MLS club Bradley – a US national team mainstay set to appear in his second World Cup this summer – will join, but ESPN analyst Taylor Twellman first reported on Wednesday that Bradley is headed to Toronto FC.
Both the league and the club declined to comment on the reports.
Bradley, 26, has been capped 82 times for the USMNT over the past eight years, and is generally regarded as one of the most crucial players in Jurgen Klinsmann's squad. He starred under Bob Bradley, the previous USMNT head coach and Michael's father, in both the 2010 World Cup as well as the 2009 Confederations Cup and 2011 Gold Cup.
The central midfielder began his career in MLS with the MetroStars in 2004, at the age of 16, missing his first season due to injury before winning a starting role in 2005. His tactical understanding on both sides of the ball impressed, and an offer from Heerenveen that winter saw Bradley make the move to the Netherlands.
While his European career has been a long and steady rise ever since and he is a gameday regular for Roma, Bradley hasn't been able to nail down an everyday starting job under first-year manager Rudi Garcia, whose midfield includes Italian legend Daniele De Rossi, Dutch international Kevin Strootman, and newly acquired Belgian hard man Radja Nainggolan.
After a Coppa Italia match on Thursday – a 1-0 win over Sampdoria – Garcia was asked by the media about Bradley.
“It’s a shame Bradley is leaving, but he wanted to go and we cannot keep hold of a player who doesn’t want to be here," the Roma manager said. "It's a pity and I understand he wanted more playing time.”
Bradley’s reported $10 million transfer fee is the third-highest for an American player all-time, behind two deals for striker Jozy Altidore. Major League Soccer sold the young striker to Spanish side Villarreal for $10 million in 2008, and Dutch side AZ Alkmaar sold him to EPL side Sunderland for $13 million last summer.