by Matthew Woods (@IAMMattWoods)
With American owners and influencers throughout Liverpool Football Club, it appears inevitable that one day Fenway Sports Group will tap into the American market and sign a footballer of states-origin.
The United States has a number of bright young players coming through the ranks that are already making an impact on both international and club level. But are any of them of interest to Liverpool? Given the way they play? Given the unique profile of player Klopp pursues? Given the plethora of existing talent in Europe and, of course, South America?
But one thing is for sure, the talent is real. It exists. And so here are some of the players Liverpool could look toward should they be interested in bringing an American to Anfield:
Brenden Aaronson, 20, Midfielder:
Philadelphia Union attacking midfielder Brenden Aaronson will be making the switch to Europe after the MLS season concludes, with a move to RB Slazburg pencilled in for January. A die-hard Liverpool supporter, Aaronson has dreamed of playing at Anfield since he was a young boy.
“As long as I can remember, I’ve been a Liverpool fan,” Aaronson said in an interview with Sky Sports. “I have a Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres posters in my room, those two were the ones I looked up to.”
Finishing up his second full MLS season, Aaronson will no doubt blossom under American coach Jesse Marsh at Salzburg. In his near two full seasons (51 games), Aaronson has amassed 7 goals and 9 assists and, to his credit, Union thrive – and indeed, rely on – his creativity from midfield. Philadelphia are ranked #1 in the Eastern Conference as the MLS Playoffs are set to take get underway.
Aaronson would fit like a glove in a team that’s tailored to attack and play incisive, fast-paced football. Quick with the ball at his feet and sharp-minded when it comes to decision making, Aaronson has shown he has the qualities to develop into a ‘complete’ midfielder.
He is tireless, forward-thinking, unselfish in the final-third, and possesses an unwavering determination to improve. We could well see him donning the colours of one of the big-name European clubs in the near future.
Gio Reyna, 18, Midfielder
If you haven’t heard of Dortmund’s young American talent by now, then, well, where have you been? Reyna has taken the Bundesliga by storm this season. His link-up play with Norwegian starlet Erling Haaland (another possible LFC target) has become a marked idiosyncrasy of Dortmund’s mouthwatering attack.
The 17-year-old made his debut for the Bundesliga outfit last year. In his first fifteen appearances, he was able to tally just one assist to his name. But Reyna is flying in his first full season in the top flight. Reyna has racked up 4 assists and 1 goal in only 7 league appearances, and assisted in Dortmund’s Champions League loss to Lazio in match-week 1.
Reyna is on par with some of Europe’s best when you look at the stats. The American is averaging 1.3 key-passes-per-90 (more than Kai Havertz, Raheem Sterling, and Roberto Firmino) while completing 85.5% of his passes in league play, more than James Rodriguez (85.2%), Mason Greenwood (83%), Marcus Rashford (81.3%), and Phillipe Coutinho in his final full season with Liverpool (83.9%). Reyna also averages 2 completed dribbles per game, more than Mohamed Salah (1.9), Kevin De Bruyne (1.3), and Bruno Fernandes (0.9).
Reyna is set to make his full U.S. National Team debut this international break.
Reyna’s style of play would give Liverpool’s midfield a penetration in the mould of Coutinho before his departure. He’s that good. With Liverpool actively playing a 4-2-3-1, Reyna would slot right into the middle of that attacking trio and one day (post-Thiago etc) be ‘the distributor’ and provide the ‘killer pass’. With Haaland potentially on the radar, why not look into the possibility of bringing his American teammate with him and developing that relationship a little further?
Tyler Adams, 21, Midfielder
Supporters may remember Adams as the player who scored the winner (and his only career goal to date) to knock Atletico Madrid out of the Champions League last season in the quarterfinal stage.
Adams doesn’t play to the stat sheet. He is more workman-like and is known as a player who can adeptly link defence and attack. A strong passer of the ball, with a passing success rate of 86.6%, and decisive tackler in defensive-midfield, Adams is ready to take the next step. Indeed, he’s is averaging more tackles (1.8) per game than Joshua Kimmich (1.7), Thomas Delaney (1.7), and Mats Hummels (1.3).
Injury issues have plagued him throughout his young career. Should those issues continue to hinder him, his move to a big club could be in jeopardy. But the talent is there and the sky – injuries permitting – is the limit.
Yunus Musah, 17, Winger/Midfielder
The 17-year-old England-born, United States international has a unique skill set. His blazing pace and a unique one-on-one ability presents defences with a daunting task (much like a certain Senegalese winger).
Musah got his chance at first-team football this season at Valencia. Musah’s unique ability allows him to find space on the wings and in behind defenders, and then make use of his best attribute: his dribbling. Musah is on par/ or better than some of La Liga’s best when it comes to dribbling, completing the same amount of dribbles per game (1.3) as Inaki Williams and Vinicius Junior. Another bonus to Musah’s game is his willingness to help out defensively, tackle opponents, and regain possession.
Where his game needs work is in the final third, but he’s young and will get plenty of chances at Valencia in the years to come – I’m sure.
If in the near future he makes the move to Merseyside, he’d be a fantastic understudy to Sadio Mane. His work rate is also one his key USPs ideal, something Klopp and Pep Ljinders no doubt look for when eyeing up wide players in the market.
As the Premier League grows in popularity in America, the addition of an American player to Liverpool FC doesn’t seem too far off. Should Liverpool make the move for one of America’s bright young stars?
Honorable mentions: Weston McKennie, Chris Richards, Sergino Dest, Konrad de la Fuente.