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 the last four seasons the league has sold some of the most prominent homegrown talents for high value, $41 million in total if you combine the transfers of Mark McKenzie, Bryan Reynolds, Brenden Aaronson, and Ricardo Pepi. There have also been high profile sales such as Gonzalo “Pity” Martínez to Al- Nassr of the Saudi Professional League for $18 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:
Jack Harrison - Manchester City - $4.4 Million
Jack Harrison was a standout player at NYCFC playing 55 games and scoring 14 goals. He would move to mother club Manchester City for a $4.4 million transfer fee, only to be loaned and bought by Leeds United.
Héctor Villalba - Libertad - $4.4 Million
Atlanta United’s first DP played 3 seasons for the club with 21 goals in 82 games. Villalba would move to Paraguay for a $4.4 million fee, the move was more of a cap space move than a desired transfer fee.
Carlos Gruezo to FC Augsburg - $4.6 Million
Ecuadorian defensive midfielder Carlos Gruezo played in FC Dallas from 2016-2019, when FC Augsburg of Germany came with a $4.6 million offer the club did not think twice and got some good cash for the solid midfielder.
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 was loaned out almost every year since then. Miazga has played in Holland, France, the Championship in England, Anderlecht, and last season with Deportivo Alavés of Spain before returning to MLS in 2022.
Chris Richards - Bayern Munich - $5.3 Million
USMNT defender Chris Richards moved to Bundesliga powerhouse Bayern Munich never playing a match in MLS. Richards was highly praised but could not crack the Bayern lineup due to more experienced players and is now in the Premier League with Crystal Palace.
Cristian Arango - Pachuca - $5.8 Million
The former LAFC striker always seemed to be a filler player for a big name pending star. Despite scoring 30 goals in 51 games the club felt it could do better and wisely sold the Colombian to Liga MX for $5.8 million.
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 23 made the move across the pond at the right time. He has signed a four-and-a-half year contract with Genk.
Matt Turner to Arsenal - $6 Million
In a shock move the USMNT netminder and one of MLS best keepers was sold to Arsenal of the Premier League for $6 million which could eventually end up being $10 million.
Djordje Mihailovic - AZ - $6 Million
One of the more creative American players in MLS, Djordje Mihailovic was sold in 2022 for a club record $6 million to Netherlands side AZ.
Brenden Aaronson to Red Bull Salzburg - $6.5 Million
Brenden Aaronson moved to Red Bull Salzburg from the Philadelphia Union at a $6.5 million transfer fee, Aaronson is a highly regarded USMNT prospect, the attacking midfielder has shown what he can do with 7 goals in 51 games for the Union. He already has 6 goals in 28 caps for the USMNT and is now at Leeds United.
Gianluca Busio - $6.5 Million
Gianluca Busio’s stock rose tremendously during the Concacaf Gold Cup in 2021 and this led to a big transfer to Italian Serie A side Venezia FC for $6.5 million in direct transfer plus another $4 million in bonuses, plus Sporting get a 20% sell-on clause. Not bad!
Brian Rodríguez - Club America - $6.6 Million
Uruguayan winger Brian Rodríguez was a headache during his time in LAFC. On a record transfer fee of $8 million from Peñarol to LAFC. Rodríguez showed flashes of brilliance but never took the league by storm, scoring only 8 goals in 55 games. Rodríguez’s desire to move to Europe forced a loan to Almería, when he returned to MLS after a rough spell in Spain the midfielder came back with a better head on his shoulders but again pushed for a move to LigaMX side Club America only four months later.
Zack Steffen to Manchester City - $7 Million
The U.S.A.’s former 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. Since then Steffen has been loaned to Middlesbrough.
Tajon Buchanan to Club Brugge - $7 Million
Tajon Buchanan was sold to Club Brugge of Belgium for $7 million plus a 10% sell-on clause on August 24th 2021. The New England Revolution winger played in 61 MLS games and scored 11 goals before his move to Europe.
Kevin Paredes to VfL Wolfsburg - $7,350,000
19-year-old Kevin Paredes was sold to the Bundesliga side in January 2022 after only playing 41 games and scoring 3 goals with DC United. A landmark deal for a young American player.
Ismaël Koné - Watford - $8.4 Million
Ismaël Koné is a talented midfielder who played for CF Montreal for two seasons making 26 appearances and scoring 2 goals. His grace and vision of the ball were spotted by Watford who did not hesitate to buy his contract, since then Ismaël Koné has hit the ground running at his new club.
Bryan Reynolds to AS Roma - $8.5 million
FC Dallas broke the 2021 transfer market when they sold 21-year-old homegrown right back Bryan Reynolds to AS Roma for a club-record fee $8.5 million according to some sources. Reynolds has been with F.C. Dallas since 2017 and played a total of 27 games for the club before making his big move to Serie A and is now on loan to K. V. C. Westerlo.
Daryl Dike to West Bromwich Albion - $9.5 Million
Not quite what MLS and Orlando City may have wanted for the big target man, but with very little true interest Daryl Dike was sold for $9.5 million to West Bromwich Albion. Dike signed a four-and-a-half-year deal with the club. In MLS, Dike scored 18 goals in only 35 games.
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.
Diego Rossi to Fenerbahce - $10 Million
Uruguayan striker Diego Rossi finally moved to Fenerbahce in Turkey for a reported $10 million in April of 2022. The deal took a long time to materialize due it being an initial six-month loan. Rossi was a highlight forward in MLS and LAFC scoring 48 goals in 104 games and winning the Golden Boot in 2020.
Adam Buksa to RC Lens - $10 Million
The Polish striker played two and a half seasons with the New England Revolution and left in June of 2022. Buksa played 64 games and netted 29 goals for the club helping the Revs capture the 2021 Supporters Shield.
Gabriel Slonina - Chelsea - $10 Million
Considered to be one of the best goalkeeping prospects in the world, Gabriel Slonina was sold to Chelsea for $10 million in the summer of 2022, he stayed for the poor Chicago Fire until January 2023. Slonina is slated to be loan for the 23/24 season.
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 12 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.
Jhon Duran - Aston Villa - $18 Million
The Colombian prospect joined the Chicago Fire for only one season scoring 8 goals in 27 games. The speed, power, and finishing of Jhon Duran were evident as he was a standout player on a bad team. Now in England, Jhon Duran will look to continue to skyrocket in the best league in the world.
Ricardo Pepi to FC Augsburg - $20 Million
In an unexpected transfer to FC Augsburg, USMNT sensation Ricardo Pepi made a huge $20 million transfer to the Bundesliga side. Pepi had a meteoric rise in 2021 and it was capped off with a huge transfer to FC Augsburg. Pepi was the subject of moves to Ajax, Wolfsburg, who came the closest to signing him, Liverpool, Manchester United among others. In MLS, Pepi scored 15 goals in 55 games.
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.Almirón played two seasons at Atlanta United winning MLS cup in 2018, he scored 21 goals in 62 appearances.