MLS young players who could shine in Europe. Major League Soccer has found a new place in the global soccer marketplace.
Once labeled a “retirement league”, MLS is now a pipeline that is becoming more and more effective each year. After every season, you see more players leave the league for Europe as MLS continues to develop top young players.
Some of the league’s top youngsters have already sealed moves, while others could be getting their own in the near future.
We already know that Slonina is heading to Chelsea, but it remains to be seen where he ends up to start 2023.
The young goalkeeper signed with Chelsea this summer and finished out the season with the Chicago Fire, with the teenager making a total of 32 appearances with 12 clean sheets for his hometown club.
What’s next for Slonina, though, remains up in the air. He isn’t going to be starting for Chelsea any time soon despite his incredible potential. He may very well be their goalkeeper of the future, but all involved need to sort out the short-term first.
The 18-year-old goalkeeper will most likely get a move elsewhere in January or perhaps in the summer after an extended period of learning under Chelsea’s staff.
No matter where he ends up, Slonina has all the potential in the world and will soon get to show it in Europe as one of the world’s top young goalkeepers.
There’s a legitimate chance that the Atlanta United star ends up on Argentina’s World Cup roster.
That possibility is almost unprecedented in MLS and pretty good evidence to show that Almada isn’t long for American soccer.
Almada’s future is certainly elsewhere, which is something Atlanta always knew when they signed him for a reported $16 million before this season. Almada, like several of the club’s big signings, was always brought in as an investment, one that would provide immediate quality on the field and big money once his future was sorted off of it.
Almada scored six goals with 12 assists in the league this season, although Atlanta’s season fell off the rails as they missed the playoffs. With his country, the 21-year-old star was at the Olympics with Argentina and recently made his senior debut, earning praise from Lionel Messi in the process.
Like Slonina, another player that already has his European move sorted. But, unlike Slonina, Mihailovic will almost certainly play a role for his new club come January.
Mihailovic is set to join AZ whenever CF Montreal’s postseason run ends. With the move, the talented midfielder will get to ply his trade in the Eredivisie, a league that is well known for its attacking play.
Mihailovic has evolved into one of MLS’ top young players since his move to Montreal as he helped lead the Canadian side to a second-place finish in the East this season. His assist numbers have dipped this season, from 16 to just six, but his goals have more than doubled to nine despite him playing in seven fewer games.
AZ should be a good level for the 23-year-old midfielder, who still has slim hopes of making the U.S. men’s national team World Cup squad, as he builds toward the 2026 tournament.
The Philadelphia Union will probably be sending a lot of players to Europe in the coming years. Some, like Brenden Aaronson and Mark McKenzie, have already gone.
Next up, most likely, is Kai Wagner.
Wagner has been linked with several European teams throughout the summer, most notably Leeds. The fullback has previously said he feels ready to return to Europe, and his play in MLS has shown that he’s right.
Wagner has been vital to the Union’s push to the top of the East and was one of three All-Stars for the club (although there should have been more). The German was also selected for the All-Star Game in 2021, having spent the last two years as arguably MLS’ top fullback.
The 25-year-old defender is entering the prime of his career, and all signs point to that prime being spent in Europe.
According to GOAL, there’s a reason that he was linked to Barcelona.
It remains to be seen if Araujo could ever reach that level, but it is safe to say Europe is looking on. So too is Mexico, the country Araujo represents, but he has previously clarified that he’d prefer to head East rather than South for the next step of his career.
Araujo remains an integral part of the Galaxy defense, having featured 33 times this season. He provided nine assists this season, a career-best, and was named an MLS All-Star.
Will Barca come calling again?? Maybe, maybe not, but expect the Galaxy to receive some offers for the defender over the winter, especially if he ends up at the World Cup with El Tri.