Transfer Tracker

Official: St. Louis CITY SC sign Sweden defender Joakim Nilsson


UPDATE (June 1)St. Louis CITY SC have signed Arminia Bielefeld defender Joakim Nilsson through the 2026 season, the 2023 MLS expansion club announced Wednesday.

Nilsson, 28, will play with STL's MLS NEXT Pro team, ST Louis CITY2, ahead of their inaugural MLS season.

The Swedish international is now the Midwestern side's fourth signing from the German Bundesliga, as sporting director Lutz Pfannenstiel's background in Germany's top division shapes their inaugural roster build.

“We have managed to get another top player with tremendous quality and experience on our roster,” said Pfannenstiel in a release. “Nilsson is the kind of defender any team would want, as he is a natural leader and possesses all the attributes to be successful in any league. He is assertive in 1v1 duels, good in the air and great at building out from the back. We are confident that all his experience and physical attributes will make him one of the best defenders in Major League Soccer.”

Nilsson made 89 appearances in his three seasons with now-2. Bundesliga side Arminia Bielefeld and scored four goals. At the international level, he's earned 10 caps with Sweden and was called up for their upcoming Nations League matches in June.

“After my first meeting with Lutz and Bradley [Carnell], I was convinced that St. Louis CITY SC was the right destination to further my career,” said Nilsson in a release. “I was impressed by their plan and vision for the long-term future of the club and how they see me as an important part of the team’s exciting sporting project.

"I want to say a huge thank you to Arminia Bielefeld for giving me the opportunity to play in the Bundesliga, which has been one of my biggest dreams since I was a child, and to the fans for welcoming my family and I with open arms. We can’t wait to call St. Louis our home and get to see the passionate soccer fans there.”

ORIGINAL (March 17) – St. Louis CITY SC's shopping list may contain another German Bundesliga target ahead of their 2023 MLS expansion launch, with the latest reports linking them to Arminia Bielefeld center back Joakim Nilsson.

According to a report from Swedish newspaper Sportbladet, the 28-year-old will join St. Louis once his contract with Arminia Bielefeld is up this summer.

Should Nilsson join MLS's 29th team, he'd be their latest Bundesliga coup after goalkeeper Roman Burki (from Borussia Dortmund), striker Joao Klauss (from Hoffenheim) and midfielder Tomas Ostrak (from Koln) have all signed in recent weeks. Those moves can largely be attributed to sporting director Lutz Pfannenstiel's background within Germany's top flight before coming to MLS.

Nilsson has two goals and two assists in 82 appearances for Arminia Bielefeld since joining ahead of the 2019 season, helping them earn promotion from the 2. Bundesliga. He’s currently teammates with US international left back and Atlanta United homegrown export George Bello.

Before moving to Germany, Nilsson featured extensively for IF Elfsborg and GIF Sundsvall in his native Sweden.

At the international level, the 28-year-old has 10 caps with Sweden and is a member of their 2022 World Cup Qualifying squad.

St. Louis CITY will be led by head coach Bradley Carnell, a former New York Red Bulls assistant coach. They’re also set to debut 22,500-seat Centene Stadium for the 2023 campaign.