Most European transfer windows closed Sept. 1, after plenty of big deals involving MLS players went through this summer. They weren’t the only ones who were subjects of interest from abroad, though.
Let’s sift through some potential moves that didn’t happen.
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At the beginning of the summer, Kai Wagner seemed very likely to move away from Philadelphia and MLS. I wrote as much when the European windows opened, grouping him with NYCFC’s Taty Castellanos and New England’s Adam Buksa (strikers who both did indeed leave as expected). On Sept. 2, though, Wagner remains.
English Premier League side Leeds United were very interested, driven by ex-MLS manager Jesse Marsch. But with a couple of left backs in the squad, they ended up not making an offer. German clubs were interested, too, but they didn’t make an offer either. There was no decision for the Union to make this summer, so their Best XI-caliber left back remains as the Eastern Conference-leading club chases an MLS Cup 2022 title.
Now what? Conventional wisdom would suggest a transfer happens in the winter, but we’ll see. We’ve been assuming that for 12-18 months now about the two-time MLS All-Star. That Leeds interest isn't likely to go away.
New York Red Bulls midfielder Cristian Casseres Jr. has long been on the radars of European clubs, but this summer that interest turned to offers.
The Red Bulls turned down numerous transfer offers, per sources, which were at least $2.5 million with sell-on clauses. The final bid that was turned down came at $3 million with a sell-on percentage.
Casseres Jr., 23, has become a mainstay with the Red Bulls, arriving in 2018. The Venezuelan international initially started with New York’s second team but quickly elevated into the first team and has been a key starter, with 97 appearances so far.
Perhaps there will be more traction on a potential move in the winter, when it’s easier for MLS clubs to acquiesce to a move for a key player. Interest isn’t going anywhere, but the player is ready to move on to Europe after five years in the United States.
On Wednesday, RBNY head coach Gerhard Struber called Casseres Jr. “maybe the best six” in MLS. That’s high praise.
LAFC midfielder Jose Cifuentes remains at the club through the summer transfer window, though the Ecuador international has plenty of suitors.
English Premier League side Brighton & Hove Albion were linked with Cifuentes, who is a known commodity across Europe. The expectation at this stage is that a move to Europe happens in the winter.
Cifuentes, 23, has 7g/6a in 27 games – and counting – from a box-to-box midfield role in LAFC’s Supporters’ Shield-leading season. He already has eight caps with Ecuador and is firmly expected to be at the Qatar 2022 World Cup with his country in November (drawn into Group A).
For a minute there, FC Barcelona were flirting with signing Julian Araujo.
Looking for another right back as Sergino Dest moved to AC Milan in Italy’s Serie A, the Spanish superclub had Araujo on their list. They made contact with the LA Galaxy about a potential deal, but ended up signing Hector Bellerin from EPL leaders Arsenal.
Araujo, 21, also had interest from Liga MX’s Club America (who signed winger Brian Rodriguez from LAFC this summer), but the Mexican international has been public in his desire to go to Europe at some point. He’ll continue being the first-choice right back for the Galaxy for the rest of the 2022 MLS season, then reassess in the winter.
With three caps for El Tri, Araujo is vying for a World Cup roster spot this November.
For DeJuan Jones, interest never turned to offers this summer, as Stuttgart (German Bundesliga), Anderlecht (Belgium’s top flight) and a few other clubs seriously considered the American fullback, per sources.
Stuttgart were the most likely destination, but have a star at Jones’ position in Croatia international Borna Sosa, who remains at the club through the deadline. Stuttgart are led by American manager Pellegrino Matarazzo.
Jones, 25, looks ready for a move to Europe as he remains a constant for the Revs. New England have already moved on numerous players from last year’s record-setting, Supporters’ Shield-winning team – Tajon Buchanan (to Belgium’s Club Brugge), Adam Buksa (to France’s RC Lens), Matt Turner (to England’s Arsenal) – and Jones could be next.
If offers come in this winter, provided the numbers are right, it would be easier for the Revs to agree on a deal with ample time to replace Jones.
It was a whirlwind window for Ismael Kone, who had not one but two moves to England’s Championship get close but fall through. The second came on deadline day, as he was in advanced talks to join Sheffield United in a deal reportedly worth around $5.2 million upfront.
Kone was meant to be a replacement for Sander Berge … but the Norwegian international never left for Club Brugge in Belgium, as was reported and expected. So Sheffield’s deal for Kone fell through.
Earlier this summer, Norwich City reportedly had a $6 million deal close to sign Kone from CF Montréal, but the move reportedly fell apart late on.
Kone spoke about it himself.
“They came to the door, they made a concrete offer,” Kone told Montréal-based French-language outlet La Presse about Norwich. “Yes, they came to watch me, but we didn't agree on the business side. I don't think about when I'm going there, where I'm going to be, etc. I focus on me, to become the best player possible and help the team. I focus on now and that's it."
Kone, 20, has 2g/3a in 21 appearances in Montréal’s midfield this season as the club sits second in the Eastern Conference standings. He’s likely to go to the World Cup with Canada as his stock continues to rise.
This summer seemed too early for Cade Cowell, particularly considering he inked a new U22 Initiative contract last offseason, but that doesn’t stop teams from trying.
Ligue 1 club Reims had bids rejected by the San Jose Earthquakes for Cowell, their 18-year-old homegrown attacker.
Cowell already has 8g/11 in 74 appearances (28 starts) during his MLS career at his young age, plus an extensive background with various US youth national teams, making him a well-known commodity across Europe.
He is under contract through 2025 with a club option for 2026.
Toronto FC homegrown and rising Canadian international Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty was the subject of some interest and talks, but nothing ended up happening. There’s plenty of time for the 18-year-old, so keep an eye on this one.
Club Brugge are very interested in the player and had some talks, but nothing came of it this summer. Other clubs in Europe are tracking him as well, but none as seriously as the Belgian Pro League side.
Fellow Canadian (and ex-New England star) Tajon Buchanan currently plays for Brugge. The club also tried to sign Brenden Aaronson (ex-Philadelphia Union), Diego Rossi (ex-LAFC) and Gianluca Busio (ex-Sporting Kansas City) in the past, clearly showing openness to MLS as a market.