Jesse Marsch and Leeds United have confirmed their first summer signing since officially avoiding relegation and it has an appeal to Americans. USMNT midfielder Brenden Aaronson, 21, will join Leeds from Red Bull Salzburg on a $30 million transfer. Aaronson's move has become the second most expensive transfer for an American player behind Christian Pulisic's $73 million move from Borussia Dortmund to Chelsea in 2019.
Aaronson and Marsch have a slight history together as Aaronson spent six months being coached by Marsch before he took over Leipzig in Germany. Knowledge of the system that Marsch is putting in place is part of the appeal with signing Aaronson along with his versatility.
"Jesse is a fantastic coach," said Aaronson of his time with Marsch on Leeds United TV. "I worked with him for half a year at Red Bull Salzburg and he was amazing. I was grateful to work with him then and I am grateful to work with him again, so I am excited. During the half-year I played under him, he taught me a lot. He taught me how to get into the final third to score goals and get assists, so that's something I am looking to bring here."
In the last year with Salzburg, Aaronson and the team completed the double by winning the Austrian Bundesliga and the league cup for the second consecutive season. They also stunned Bayern Munich in the Champions League playing to a 1-1 draw in the first leg of the round of 16 where Aaronson assisted the opener.
Aaronson has also become integral to Gregg Berhalter's national team setup as his work rate and vision have helped him succeed in multiple positions. Deputizing as an eight, 10 or a winger, Aaronson can help out in multiple roles in Marsch's 4-2-2-2. Aaronson likely won't be a big time scorer in the Premier League as he only scored four goals and assisted five more during the past season in Austria. He'll have an eye for the pass before the assist and will help transition defense into the attack. It's going to be what makes Leeds United tick.
This is a coup of a signing for Leeds United as Aaronson was linked to the team in January, but due to uncertainty about relegation and looming Champions League commitments for RB Salzburg, he didn't move at the time. AC Milan also reportedly had their eyes on him at the time. With Leeds' safety secured, Salzburg did not stand in his way since Leeds met their valuation of him.
From South Jersey to debuting for the Philadelphia Union in 2019 on to Austria in January of 2021, Aaronson has had quite the upswing in his career. Next up is the Premier League where he'll get to square off against fellow national teamers Pulisic and Antonee Robinson.