Who are the most expensive American soccer transfers of all time?


American soccer players are gradually costing more to field.

Brenden Aaronson’s recent $30 million transfer fee from FC Red Bull Salzburg to Leeds United became the second-most ever paid for an American soccer player, which continues a new trend.

Since Christian Pulisic’s blockbuster transfer to Chelsea in 2019, four American players have had transfer fees north of $20 million, including Aaronson. Before Pulisic only one topped $18 million.

These are the 10 most expensive American soccer transfers of all time (all fees via Transfermarkt):

1. Christian Pulisic, 2019 - $70.4 million

Pulisic’s name became a hot commodity in Germany as a teenage winger for Borussia Dortmund. The then-20-year-old prospect had multiple suitors after breaking out on the national stage as potentially the next major youngster. Chelsea eventually landed him for over $70 million, which is by far the most paid for an American.

2. Brenden Aaronson, 2022 - $30.8 million

Aaronson’s move from RB Salzburg to Leeds United of the Premier League became the second-highest transfer. In the last two seasons in the Austrian Football Bundesliga, Aaronson has registered nine goals and nine assists in 46 appearances. The 21-year-old attacking midfielder now reunites with former RB Salzburg manager Jesse Marsch. 

3. Weston McKennie, 2021 - $27.5 million

McKennie’s move from FC Schalke 04 in Germany to Juventus FC in Italy comes in at No. 3. He initially played for Juventus on loan, and the deal involved a loan-to-buy option for $22.5 million. Add a $5 million loan fee on top of that and the number boosts to $27.5 million after Juve triggered the option. 

4. Sergino Dest, 2020 - $23.1 million

Dest stood out as a right fullback emerging from the AFC Ajax youth academy. He had dual eligibility, so he could’ve opted to represent the U.S. or Netherlands. He chose the former and later transferred to FC Barcelona for $23.1 million. Bayern Munich was also one of the teams in the running for Dest’s signature. 

5. John Brooks, 2017 - $18.7 million

You may remember his infamous goal against Ghana in the 2014 World Cup. Three years later in 2017, Brooks swapped Bundesliga clubs, going from Hertha BSC to VfL Wolfsburg for $18.7 million. He’s the most expensive central defender in American history. The 29-year-old defender is set to leave Wolfsburg this summer on a free transfer after his contract expired without a new deal.

6. Ricardo Pepi, 2022 - $18 million

In early January, Pepi of FC Dallas completed a transfer from MLS to FC Augsburg of the Bundesliga. Pepi, 19, made a name for himself after scoring 13 goals in 31 appearances with Dallas but did not score in 11 appearances for Augsburg. The fee also included add-ons.

T-7. Jozy Altidore, 2013 - $11 million

One of the more renowned USMNT players from the past decade, Altidore’s return to the Premier League makes an entry. After a stint with Hull City in the 2009-2010 season, he came back to the PL in 2013 after a transfer from AZ Alkmaar to Sunderland. He was there for two seasons before going back to MLS.

T-7. Timothy Weah, 2019 - $11 million

Weah was supposed to be the striker of the future alongside Pulisic, but that hasn’t been the case yet as he’s now 22. His transfer from Paris Saint-Germain to LOSC Lille in 2019 in Ligue 1 is tied for seventh on this list. He still has the potential to rise on this list if he improves his goal-scoring tally within the next few seasons. 

9. Josh Sargent, 2021 - $10.45 million

Sargent spent a few seasons with SV Werder Bremen before the club was relegated last year. He then signed with Norwich City in the Premier League, which also suffered the same fate this season. Sargent found the net twice in 26 appearances, but going against EFL Championship clubs could help him improve his form.

10. Michael Bradley, 2014 - $10 million

The longtime central midfielder for USMNT rounds out this list. After playing for multiple leagues across Europe, Bradley returned to MLS for $10 million after Toronto FC acquired him from A.S. Roma in 2014. The soon-to-be 35-year-old midfielder has stayed with the club since.

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