Ranging from Jesse Marsch as head coach to Tyler Adams, Brenden Aaronson and Jack Harrison as key players, there’s plenty of MLS influence throughout Leeds United.
Might Philadelphia Union left back Kai Wagner join them at the English Premier League club? Numerous reports say they’re interested, and head coach Jim Curtin acknowledged as much in the buildup to Philly's eventual 4-1 win over Chicago Fire FC on Saturday evening.
“I've had discussions with Jesse,” Curtin said. “Obviously he's on their radar, there's no question about that. But so are a lot of other good left backs in the world. So, it's a unique window in that it doesn't really close until September for them.”
As Curtin noted, the EPL’s transfer window closes Sept. 1. That leaves about two-and-a-half weeks for Leeds to get a deal done, should they desire.
Wagner, in MLS since 2019, is coming off a second-straight MLS All-Star Game presented by Target nod. The 25-year-old German is also tied for third in MLS in assists (11) this year and is fifth (55) in key passes – all while starting on the league’s best defense (19 goals allowed).
But as MLSsoccer.com’s Tom Bogert reported, and Curtin himself noted in relation to sporting director Ernst Tanner, first offers need to come.
“There's always interest,” Curtin said. “I think in the last six or seven windows, there's been interest in Kai, but nothing's come to fruition. So, we'll obviously make decisions based on – first official offers have to come in, and Ernst will decide one way or the other what is best for the club, myself included and Kai as well.”
Should Wagner depart, Philly’s most likely replacement would be homegrown left back Matthew Real. But Wagner’s been nearly an every-game starter for four seasons, amassing 102 regular-season games since arriving from German lower-division side Würzburger Kickers.
At some point soon, decision time may arrive for Philadelphia and Wagner, a player who’s been linked to Premier League sides before and made no secret of his desire to return to Europe one day.
“Selfishly we'd love him to stay here and hopefully we can push and try to win something this year,” Curtin said. “Kai loves it here in Philly, he loves the fans, he loves playing in Subaru Park. But he also has aspirations to play at the highest level. So, we'll see what happens."
Philadelphia are five points clear atop the Eastern Conference standings with nine regular-season games remaining. As Curtin noted, their trophy pursuit continues as an outgoing transfer possibly materializes.
“Still a 'to be determined' kind of situation,” Curtin said. “But I have to give Kai a lot of credit for being professional while there's always noise in and around him. He's been focused and done a great job for us this season and I have no doubt he'll continue.”
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