USMNT Abroad: Transfer Potential for Dest, McKennie and More in a Pivotal Summer

A number of core U.S. national team players face big club decisions and could be on the move entering a vital year of World Cup qualifying.
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The dates may be changed, but the summer transfer window is nearing, and with that means the potential for some major moves for some key Americans abroad.

Entering 2022 World Cup qualifying (whenever it starts and however it winds up looking), players know they need to have their club situations maximized for 2020-2021. The stakes are too high both personally and professionally to risk a season spent on the bench. For many, their club situations are settled for the foreseeable future. Christian Pulisic is signed through 2024 with Chelsea, Tyler Adams is locked in at RB Leipzig through 2025, and neither figures to be a candidate for a move anytime soon. Giovanni Reyna is due for a new long-term contract with Dortmund in November, once he turns 18. Ulysses Llanez's contract status hasn't been publicized, but given he just signed his first Wolfsburg deal last year and is on the cusp of joining the first team, he's not a candidate to move.

The luxury of peace of mind isn't held by all, though. Here are five key Americans abroad who should or could be on the move this summer, along with the contract status (terms via Transfermarkt) of the U.S. internationals that are part of the core or on the fringes of the senior national team:

Weston McKennie

Schalke is in shambles both competitively and financially, and that could wind up facilitating the departure of the 21-year-old Texan. The club's head of sport, Jochen Schneider, even indicated as much in blunt comments made this week.

"A departure cannot be ruled out," Schneider said this week. "I can't say it 100% right now. It's a fact that Weston prolonged his contract through to 2024 last year."

It's true McKennie is under contract through 2024, after he signed a two-year extension in June of last year. He has always spoken glowingly of Schalke–and the experience of playing in Germany, where he spent three years as a child–but recent events have altered the calculus. Schalke's longtime chairman stepped down amid fan unrest (much of it having to do with the spread of coronavirus in a slaughterhouse that his company owns), and the club has been transparent in saying that it is in dire financial straits, doesn't expect to compete for European places and is essentially just hoping to survive. With that will come prudent and thrifty spending habits and cashing in where possible. McKennie, one of the club's few bright spots after the restart, could fetch a decent fee (reports put his valuation in the $22 million to $28 million range), and he's reportedly open to a move, too. 

Everton, Newcastle, Hertha Berlin and Wolfsburg are said to be among the clubs reportedly showing interest in his services, and with the Bundesliga transfer window set to reopen on July 15, things could move awfully quickly if staying in Germany is his priority.

Sergiño Dest

No American player has had a more prominent place in the transfer spotlight than Dest, the 19-year-old Dutch-American fullback who rose to prominence at Ajax, chose to represent the U.S. over the Netherlands and now could find himself at an even bigger European giant. PSG, Bayern Munich and Barcelona are all said to be vying for his services. While that may appear to be tantalizing, there's something to be said for landing at a place where playing time will occur.

Bayern is clearly not averse to turning over a fullback spot to a Concacaf-based teenager, with Canada's Alphonso Davies emerging as the Bundesliga's Rookie of the Year with his sensational season. Dest can play on either side, but if left is out of the equation in Bavaria, that'd mean looking at right back, where World Cup winner Benjamin Pavard is the incumbent (though he is versatile and can play centrally).

At PSG, right back Thomas Meunier just left for Dortmund, while left back Layvin Kurzawa just re-signed through 2024 and has Juan Bernat behind him on the depth chart. Perhaps there's an opening on the right to be had, though German rising talent Thilo Kehrer would figure to have a head start.

At Barcelona, Jordi Alba and Nelson Semedo have the two fullback positions sewn up. The Barcelona-Ajax connection is strong, and Dest is said to have rooted for Barcelona growing up, but it's tough to see a pathway to the first team the way things are currently constituted.

Dest is under contract at Ajax until 2022, so the club is under no compulsion to sell if it doesn't get the offer it wants and as long as Dest remains content in Amsterdam.

USA's Weston McKennie, Zack Steffen and Sergino Dest could be on the move this summer

Zack Steffen

Steffen spent the last season on loan with Fortuna Dusseldorf in the Bundesliga and was the club's first-choice goalkeeper when he was healthy. The problem is, he wasn't healthy for much of the season. A knee injury suffered in training ahead of the restart ended his season prematurely, and he was limited to 18 appearances in all competitions in goal. The club was relegated, and a return to play in the 2. Bundesliga won't happen. So where does that leave the 25-year-old first-choice U.S. goalkeeper? 

It's a huge season ahead, with World Cup qualifying due to start. If he stays at Man City, he's going to be a backup to Ederson in a best-case scenario. That won't afford the playing time necessary to remain the USA's No. 1, so another loan figures to be the wise and sensible approach. First things first: a clean bill of health.

Antonee Robinson

Robinson had the year's most tumultuous transfer saga, when a January move from Wigan Athletic to AC Milan was scuppered at the deadline after a physical revealed a heart condition. There wasn't enough time in the transfer window for Robinson to get the follow-up examinations and treatment necessary, so he stayed put. Upon his return after a heart procedure, he played at a high level, and now Wigan is entering bankruptcy protection amid a bizarre turn of events. That figures to put Robinson, who is under contract through 2022, back in the shop window for a club that is in desperate need of funds. 

A potential-filled left back at a position of need for the U.S., Robinson, 22, has struggled internationally against top opponents but is still quite young, has room for growth and offers a lot surging forward into the attack. His next landing spot, whether it's Milan or elsewhere, could prove vital in his career.

Matt Miazga

There are two kinds of Chelsea signings: Those who have a shot at featuring for the Premier League team right away, and those who are perpetually loaned out. Miazga is in the latter group. Since joining Chelsea from the New York Red Bulls in 2016, Miazga has played a total of two times for the Blues while being loaned out to Vitesse, Nantes and Reading. 

Under contract with Chelsea until 2022, Miazga's loan to Reading expires at the end of the Championship season, at which point he'll be at yet another crossroads. Reading has six games left as it looks to steer clear of relegation to League One, but Miazga has been suspended for the next three, after his red card last weekend.

First-team time at Chelsea hardly appears to be in the cards, and at 24, Miazga should be entering his prime. Finding a place either on loan or via a full transfer to facilitate that growth, and perhaps offer some much-needed stability, is imperative, given that he doesn't appear to be near the top of the U.S. depth chart.

As for other players in the U.S. player pool, ranging from core members to fringe talents to aging veterans, here's a look at their contract statuses, which give a glimpse into who could be on deck for negotiations or moves:

Fabian Johnson is leaving Borussia Monchengladbach

Free Agents

Luca de la Torre, Fulham

Eric Lichaj, Hull City

Fabian Johnson, Borussia Monchengladbach

Of these three, only Johnson finds himself on MLS's Allocation Order list of players subjected to the distribution mechanism, should those players want to join (or rejoin) the league. Johnson, 32 and coming off an injury-laden season that limited him to six appearances, figures to be an attractive option for MLS sides given there's no transfer fee involved. FC Cincinnati had engaged in talks with Johnson for its expansion season and sits atop the Allocation Order after LAFC used its place to sign former D.C. United and Anderlecht right back Andy Najar and Inter Miami used its place to bring ex-Atlanta United center back Leandro Gonzalez Pirez back to the league.

Lichaj, 31, is entering the latter stages of his career, while de la Torre, a 22-year-old San Diego native who rose through Fulham's academy, is looking to kick-start his.

Expiring in June 2021

DeAndre Yedlin, Newcastle

Cameron Carter-Vickers, Tottenham (loan to Luton Town expires at end of season)

Julian Green, Greuther Furth

Ethan Horvath, Club Brugge

Tim Ream, Fulham

Bobby Wood, Hamburg

Duane Holmes, Derby County

Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf

Matthew Olosunde, Rotherham

Expiring in June 2022

John Brooks, Wolfsburg

Erik Palmer-Brown, Man City (loan to Austria Vienna expires at the end of July)

Konrad De la Fuente, Barcelona

Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen

Richie Ledezma, PSV Eindhoven

Chris Gloster, PSV Eindhoven

Alex Mendez, Ajax

Indiana Vassilev, Aston Villa

Lynden Gooch, Sunderland

Timmy Chandler, Eintracht Frankfurt

Taylor Booth, Bayern Munich

Jonathan Amon, Nordsjaelland

Andrija Novakovich, Frosinone

Expiring in June 2023

Tyler Boyd, Besiktas

Chris Richards, Bayern Munich

Sebastian Soto, Norwich City

Expiring in June 2024

Christian Pulisic, Chelsea

Tim Weah, Lille

Shaq Moore, Tenerife

Expiring in June 2025

Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig