MLS Insider: Tom Bogert

Most expensive MLS & USMNT players at the 2022 World Cup


The World Cup is soccer’s biggest stage. Players form legacies with these performances. Fans and clubs alike can change their perceptions of players.

It also is a useful platform in the ever-active transfer market. The January window across the globe, after Qatar 2022, is sure to be a busy one.

Ahead of the tournament, data scientists at TransferRoom put together expected transfer values for all players at the tournament. TransferRoom is an online platform started in 2017 to link clubs around the world to help facilitate transfers. As always, it’s important to point out that these figures aren’t hard-and-fast price points. To buy a player’s contract (i.e. a transfer) comes down to conditions that vary often, like numerous clubs bidding or lack of interest.

Various data points go into TransferRoom’s Expected Transfer Value, including age, length of contract, strength of the selling club and comparisons with other players sold in that position/league.

USMNT's top players

With those caveats aside, the United States have values that have changed in recent times. Most notably, Christian Pulisic, who is the most expensive American player of all time after a $73 million transfer to Chelsea, is no longer viewed at the top of this particular list. Rising star Gio Reyna, who plays for Pulisic’s previous club Borussia Dortmund, is expected to have the highest transfer of any current USMNT player.

Reyna scales with most U21 players at the World Cup, according to TransferRoom, as he’s listed 12th. Spain’s Pedri (Barcelona) is the U21 player with the highest expected transfer value, just ahead of German wonderkid Jamal Musiala (Bayern Munich).

Brenden Aaronson, who just made a $30 million transfer from RB Salzburg to Leeds United, is viewed second on the USMNT behind Reyna. Juventus midfielder Weston McKennie is third, then Pulisic is fourth. Valencia midfielder Yunus Musah, a teenager who is an integral starter for the US, is fifth.

TR-WorldCup-xTV 38 - United States – Squad value

MLS players

New York Red Bulls center back Aaron Long is currently out of contract and can be signed for free, thus is free. NYCFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson is also out of contract. LAFC had a club option for 2023 for midfielder Kellyn Acosta that wasn't yet officially picked up when the list was compiled, hence why he is listed with an expected transfer fee of zero.

FC Dallas forward Jesus Ferreira is the highest-rated American MLS player at the World Cup, but is second overall. MLS league-record transfer holder Thiago Almada has the most expected value. The Atlanta United attacking midfielder was called into Argentina's squad as an injury replacement last week.

TransferRoom xTV WC MLS Top 10 (1)

Behind Ferreira is Orlando City’s Uruguayan winger Facundo Torres, then LAFC’s Ecuadorian midfielder José Cifuentes.

Cifuentes is expected to complete a lucrative transfer to a European club this winter. Almada, Torres and Ferreira may have another season in MLS.

Another player heavily expected to leave in a transfer this winter is midfielder Ismaël Koné. The CF Montréal rising star twice nearly transferred to England's second division (first to Norwich City, then Sheffield United) during the summer, but neither move came through.

Seattle Sounders FC's USMNT duo, forward Jordan Morris and midfielder Cristian Roldan, are in the top 10. Charlotte FC club-record signing Karol Swiderski is sixth. He should stand to earn some minutes for Poland in an attack led by superstar Robert Lewandowski.

MLS sent the sixth-most players to the World Cup of any league in the world with 36 spread across 22 clubs. That's the most behind Europe's big-five leagues.