Brenden Aaronson: “Playing in Europe has always been a part of my dream.” (Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)
CHESTER, Pa. – Philadelphia Union Friday announced it has reached a historic transfer agreement with FC Red Bull Salzburg for homegrown midfielder Brenden Aaronson.
The deal, the Union’s first outgoing European transfer, includes a multi-million-dollar transfer fee, as well as additional performance-based bonuses, for the highest transfer fee for a U.S.-based homegrown player.
The team did not release the transfer figures.
Aaronson, 19, a product of the Philadelphia Union Academy, will finish the 2020 MLS season with the Union before joining FC Red Bull Salzburg. He will be eligible to play for FC Red Bull Salzburg when the international transfer window reopens in January.
“Playing in Europe has always been a part of my dream. I’ve been able to accomplish the first part of my dream, to play for my home city, and am so excited for this continuation of my journey,” Aaronson said in a statement. “Before working towards a career overseas, my first goal was to play on the Philadelphia Union field. My family had tickets to the inaugural season, so I grew up watching the team from the very beginning and I remember hoping one day to be on that field scoring in front of the home crowd.
“I am so incredibly appreciative of all my coaches, my family, and the Philadelphia Union fans. Like I said, I was one of them once, and their support means everything to me. I’ll continue to give them everything I have through the end of the season and what I hope is a long playoff run. For me and for this club, this is just the beginning, and I look forward to what the future holds.”
A local product from Medford, N.J., Aaronson joined the Union Juniors at age 11 and remained with the academy throughout his youth. After committing to Indiana University his junior year, Aaronson decided to turn professional, signing a Homegrown Player deal Sept. 17, 2018 that saw him join the first team prior to the 2019 season.
“Brenden Aaronson is considered one of the greatest talents in the MLS, 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.”
In his club and league debut, Aaronson started and scored at Atlanta United March 17, 2019. In his second season with the club, he has recorded seven goals and five assists in 42 matches, 39 he has started.
Aaronson earned his first senior U.S. men’s national team call-up in October 2019 for two Concacaf Nations League matches following appearances at multiple levels of the U.S. men’s youth National teams, including the Under-15s, U-19s and U-23s. He earned his first cap in a friendly against Costa Rica (Feb. 1, 2020), where he featured in the starting XI, playing 66 minutes in the 1-0 victory. Aaronson most recently was selected to the U.S. men’s Olympic qualifying team in March.