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Philadelphia Union announces Brenden Aaronson transfer to RB Salzburg

Aaronson will join Austrian champions in January

Photo by Morgan Tencza

Brenden Aaronson to FC Red Bull Salzburg is official.

The 19-year-old Philadelphia Union homegrown will be transferred to the Austrian Bundesliga club at the end of the season on a deal that sets a transfer fee record not only for the team but for an American homegrown player in MLS. He’ll be eligible to play when the international transfer window opens in January.

“This is an important next step for both Brenden, the organization, and United States soccer,” Sporting Director Ernst Tanner said in a news release. “This has always been the goal of the club. We want to establish a unique identity of developing young players through our academy with an end goal of cultivating and developing their talent to the level that allows them to compete against the very best in the world.”

Aaronson grew up in Medford, N.J. and was first identified by the Philadelphia Union as a 11-year-old playing for Real Jersey FC. He joined the Union Academy when they started full-time teams in 2013 and impressed at the USL level before signing a homegrown deal in 2018 and joining the first team in 2019.

“I’ve worked with Brenden since he played on the Union Academy youth teams, and have witnessed his rapid development since then,” Union Head Coach Jim Curtin said in the news release. “Brenden is a special player who is always looking to improve. Over the past couple of years, he’s become very developed technically and the distance and speed he covers over the course of a game are unmatched.”

The Union didn’t release the dollar amount other than to say it was a record-setting fee, but Jonathan Tannenwald reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer that the deal is for $6 million plus $3 million in add-ons and includes a sell-on fee that would fall in the 10-20% range depending on the deal. The previous record was just over $300,00 the Union received for Michael Farfan when he was transferred to Cruz Azul in Mexico, Tannenwald wrote.

“His dynamism and his presence on the field are extraordinary for a 19-year-old,” FC Red Bull Salzburg Sporting Director Christoph Freund said in a statement. “Despite his young age, he already has an excellent feeling for making the right decisions on the pitch. With his way of playing football, Brenden is a perfect match for us and we are already looking forward to him.”

Salzburg is coached by American Jesse Marsch, a former teammate of Curtin’s at both the Chicago Fire and Chivas USA. Salzburg are the defending champions of the Austrian Bundesliga and have won 14 league titles, seven Austrian Cups and three Austrian Supercups.