Major League Soccer continues to rise in the global landscape, as the league has grown in notoriety in the United States so too has it grown overseas. More and more clubs from all over the world scout the league looking for talent be it young South American players or American prospects. In recent years MLS has made it clear that for the right price teams are willing to sell players to bigger stages and greener pastures.
In recent years the league has sold more players to various teams abroad at a high value considering that MLS was once seen as a kind of soccer wasteland in regards to the transfer market. Atlanta United, for example, is one of the league's biggest spenders, but they also have a pulse when it comes to selling players. The club has sold Gonzalo “Pity” Martínez to Al- Nassr of the Saudi Professional League for $18 million. For Atlanta United, it was the team’s third major transfer in three years, the club has sold Miguel Almirón for $27 million and Héctor Villalba for $4.4 million.
As the league continues to buy young up and coming South Americans and the youth academies continue to produce American prospects one thing is for certain, MLS will continue to sell talent at a high value, the highest in their history. Who are the biggest transfers in MLS history? Take a look!
MLS highest outgoing transfers:
Matt Miazga to Chelsea - $5 Million
Matt Miazga was sold from the New York Red Bulls to Chelsea in 2016 for a $5 million transfer, the defender only made 2 appearances for Chelsea and has been loaned out almost yearly since then.Miazga has played in Holland, France, the Championship in England, and is now on loan to Anderlecht this season.
Mark McKenzie to Genk - $6 Million
Mark McKenzie was sold to Belgium club Genk for a club record $6 Million transfer fee after playing 48 games and scoring 2 goals for the Union. McKenzie is a future USMNT prospect and at 21 has made the move across the pond at the right time. He has signed a four-and-a-half year contract with Genk.
Brenden Aaronson to Red Bull Salzburg - $6.5 Million
Brenden Aaronson moved to Red Bull Salzburg from the Philadelphia Union at $6.5 million transfer fee that could be bumped up to $9 million based on incentives. Aaronson is a highly regarded USMNT prospect, the attacking midfielder has shown what he can do with 7 goals in 48 games for the Union. He already has 1 goal in 2 caps for the USMNT.
Zack Steffen to Manchester City - $7 Million
The U.S.A.’s number one goalkeeper was sold to City in the summer of 2019 for $7 million. Manchester City immediately loaned Steffen to Fortuna Düsseldorf in Germany to get him playing time in hopes to have him return to the club ready for Premier League action. Zack Steffen already earned first team minutes at City with high praise from Josep Guardiola.
Jozy Altidore to Villarreal - $10 Million
Jozy Altidore’s transfer to Villarreal was executed in 2008 and for a league-high $10 million at the time. Altidore’s time in Spain was largely insignificant as he bounced around on loan for three years.
Altidore did have a resurgence in the Netherlands, where he played for AZ for two seasons, scoring 39 goals in 67 appearances before a move to the EPL where he scored only 1 goal in 42 outings for Sunderland. He has since returned to MLS and is playing for Toronto FC where he is one of the highest-paid players in the league.
Alphonso Davies to Bayern Munich - $13.5 Million
Alphonso Davies is becoming MLS’s best export, at 18 he had already played 65 games for the Vancouver Whitecaps and was an MLS All-Star. Bayern Munich had been observing him heavily and pulled the trigger in July 2018 and purchased the Canadian international for $13.5 million. The deal could end up being $22 million if Davies hits certain objectives. Davies has won 7 titles since his move to Germany and is the starting left back at Bayern Munich.
Gonzalo ‘Pity’ Martínez to Al- Nassr - $18 million
The Argentine attacker came to MLS as the 2018 South American Footballer of the year and was brought in at a $13 million transfer from River Plate of Argentina. Pity Martinez’s time in MLS can largely be summed up as disappointing, Atlanta United had high hopes for him, especially after River Plate’s run in the 2018 Copa Libertadores. Martínez never fully became adjusted to the league and often was played out of position under Frank de Boer.
In total Martinez played 39 games for Atlanta United and scored 7 goals and provided 11 assists, his play was largely inconsistent and he never really became the dominant player the team had intended.
Miguel Almirón to Newcastle United - $27 million
Miguel Almirón is the largest outgoing transfer to date in MLS. The Paraguayan midfielder was explosive with highlight-reel goals and speed that left the best defenders in MLS eating his dust. He played two seasons at Atlanta United winning MLS cup in 2018, he scored 21 goals in 62 appearances.
At Newcastle, he has been a success after a period of adjustment, Almirón found his footing this season and has scored 5 goals in 61 appearances for the club.