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Homegrowns Abroad: Leeds United pursuit of Aaronson dominates headlines; De Vries keeps producing for Venezia U19s

Mark McKenzie, meanwhile, still riding the center back carousel at Genk

Rapid Wien v FC Red Bull Salzburg - Admiral Bundesliga Photo by Christian Hofer - FC Red Bull Salzburg/FC Red Bull Salzburg via Getty Images

The start of 2022 was full of news about the former Philadelphia Union homegrowns abroad in Europe.

During the January transfer window, Leeds United moved aggressively to acquire Brenden Aaronson, first making Red Bull Salzburg an offer of $20 million (which Salzburg rejected), followed by an offer of $27 million (which they also rejected).

With his pressing ability, creativity, and work-rate, Leeds viewed the former Union player as a perfect fit for their system, as they work to remain clear of the Premier League’s relegation spots. But Salzburg were adamant on keeping Aaronson as they look toward their upcoming Champions League matchup against Bayern Munich—their first ever trip to the Champions League knock-out stage. Leeds have said they remain interested in Aaronson and will likely make another offer in the summer transfer window.

Back on the pitch, Aaronson had an immediate impact in Salzburg’s return to competitive play after the winter break, providing an assist in the team’s 3-1 defeat of LASK in the Austrian Cup and a goal in their 2-1 win in the league over Rapid Vienna.

Mark McKenzie continues to go round and round on the center back carousel at Genk. After getting a strong run of playing time in December, McKenzie has only appeared twice in the last five matches, starting and going 67 minutes in a 2-1 loss at league-leading Union Saint-Gilloise and playing the full 90 in a 2-0 win over Standard Liege. With Colombian internationals Carlos Cuesta and Jhon Lucimi back in the mix, minutes could remain hard to come by for the former Union Best XI center back. Genk continue to struggle this season and remain stalled in the middle of the Belgian league table.

Jack de Vries resumed his impressive performance at Venezia U19, notching a goal and assist in the team’s first match after the winter break, a 3-0 win against Virtus Entella U19. He also provided an assist in a 2-0 win over Brescia U19. De Vries now has eight goals and three assists in 15 matches this season across all competitions.

It also looks likely that de Vries won’t be the only former Union homegrown in Italy—Anthony Fontana has reportedly finalized a contract with Serie B side Ascoli Calcio 1898 FC.