A move overseas for Philadelphia Union prodigy Brenden Aaronson seems to be a foregone conclusion at this point, with Austrian side Red Bull Salzburg the most recent rumored suitors to be interested in acquiring the 19-year-old playmaker's services.
It's an exciting possibility for the Union and for the player, and the Extratime crew was happy to oblige the hype surrounding Aaronson, discussing the potential fit at RB Salzburg and what it would mean for the club and the league. Calen Carr led it off, saying that he thinks RB Salzburg sounds like an ideal fit for Aaronson's high-energy style of play.
"I think the style of play, the way they play, the up-tempo energy. I mean he's all over the pitch," Carr said. "He's very good under pressure, he's able to work in tight spaces, he can change the tempo, he can find the final pass. He's making the right decision -- that's something that's difficult, that last step: Do you shoot? Do you square it? He's consistently finding that right choice. So yeah, I think that would be a fantastic move for him and I think being within that sort of global system, we've seen how they've been able to use players and move them around and put them in good spots. So I think that style of play would suit him."
Andrew Wiebe highlighted the issue of opportunity cost, arguing that the Union might have to base their asking price for Aaronson on future considerations as they look to establish themselves as a pipeline between their youth academy, first team, and overseas clubs.
"I think Red Bull Salzberg, if he wants to be in the Bundesliga, which it sounds like he wants to be, is an ideal sort of starting point for him," said Wiebe. "If you look at their outgoing transfers over the last five years, whether it's RB Leipzig or other, it's just been big Bundesliga transfer — one after another after another after another with other clubs mixed in, whether that be Liverpool last year. You go there, if Jesse Marsch thinks you're good and wants to play you, you do it, but how much do you ask for if you're the Union? What would it take?
"To me, a big part of this conversation is opportunity cost, and that's for both the player and the club," he continued. "The opportunity being your player gets seen and maybe also gets you sell-on down the road. The earlier you get Brenden Aaronson to Red Bull Salzburg, the earlier he can play and make an impact and maybe make that next move or prove that your system is worth investing in. Maybe Mark McKenzie goes six months later after Aaronson has torn up the Austrian league and maybe you get an extra $500K or a million out of that, etc."
Matt Doyle agreed that using this potential sale as a way to establish the pipeline should be the priority, rather than getting hung up on the up-front fee for an Aaronson sale. It should theoretically pay dividends down the line for the club's future business, with Doyle adding that playing under former New York Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch should be a good next step in Aaronson's development.
"You have to create the pipeline if you're the Union," Doyle said. "And if that means taking a little bit of a haircut on the up-front in order to get that pipeline created in order to get a better sell-on fee -- because as much proof as we have now that you can go from MLS to the top leagues and the top teams in Europe, RB Salzburg has a hundred times more. So if you sell Aaronson for $3-3.5 million plus a 20 percent sell-on fee, that could end up being an extra $5 million 24 months from now.
"I hope that happens this winter for Aaronson. I think that playing for Jesse Marsch in Salzburg would be great."