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US Soccer players likely to find themselves Premier League transfer targets

Jul 2, 2014, 7:38 PM EDT

NATAL, BRAZIL - JUNE 16: Matt Besler of the United States challenges Jordan Ayew of Ghana during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group G match between Ghana and the United States at Estadio das Dunas on June 16, 2014 in Natal, Brazil. Getty Images

With the United States time at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil having drawn to a close, a number of players will soon feel the chase of European clubs looking for transfer targets.

The Premier League has long been a place welcoming to Americans and with a crop of six Yanks already in England’s top tier – Tim Howard (Everton), Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Brad Friedel (Tottenham), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City) and Brek Shea (Stoke City) – there’s a good chance more will join after some impressive performances down in Brazil.

Below are five guys who could get Premier League looks as well as a few clubs where, based on need and prestige, the player could fit in.

MATT BESLER – SPORTING KANSAS CITY (DEFENDER) 

Leading up to the World Cup, Besler had attracted looks from Premier League and Bundesliga clubs impressed with his work in qualification. Now, with his performance in the World Cup in the books, those looks will undoubtedly translate into offers to move abroad.

Positionally intelligent, cool under pressure, fearless and fierce in the tackle, Besler would be a fantastic addition to a Premier League side looking to bolster their center-backs.

Decent Fits: Aston Villa, Crystal Palace, Hull City, Newcastle, Southampton, West Ham
Likelihood of Transfer: 7 of 10

DEANDRE YEDLIN – SEATTLE SOUNDERS (DEFENDER) 

Prior to the 1-2 loss to Belgium, Yedlin’s influential role as a bit-part substitute against Portugal and Germany had pundits and fans alike buzzing. Yes, people were well-aware of Yedlin’s sky-rocketing status at the Seattle Sounders but at the tender age of 20, could Yedlin truly handle significant role on the international stage?

That question was emphatically answered Tuesday night when the University of Akron product stepped on the pitch for the injured Fabian Johnson and promptly drove holes into Belgium’s left side. Did he power his way forward too much? Probably. But when the rest of the USMNT was tentative in attack, Yedlin was fearless, downright brash in his attacks. Defensively, he recovered as well, notably shutting down Premier League Young Player of the Year, Eden Hazard.

No doubt, Yedlin is raw. But his physicality is special and his swashbuckling style is reminiscent of current Premier League full-backs Kyle Walker and Seamus Coleman. The latter was purchased by Everton in 2009 for a cool $750,000 from Sligo Rovers and has since gone on to become the most feared attacking full-back in the league. No reason Yedlin can’t achieve the same status by 2018.

Possible Fits: Arsenal, Aston Villa, Manchester United, Southampton
Likelihood of Transfer: 6 of 10

 

FABIAN JOHNSON – BORUSSIA MONCHENGLADBACH (DEFENDER) 

Hard to say there was a more dynamic player than Fabian Johnson for the US in Brazil. The versatile German-American fit right in at right-back, a position some US pundits feared before the tournament the Yanks were vulnerable. But Johnson, who can play anywhere on the left or right side of the pitch, proved an ace on defense and a nightmare going forward.

Explosive pace, skill on the ball and an eye for dangerous runs that create goals, Johnson could be an attacking full-back of the highest caliber in the Premier League. The issue with the 26-year-old, however, is that he just completed his transfer from Hoffenheim to Borussia Monchengladbach, who will be unlikely to want to part with the player after such a strong showing in Brazil. Then again, Johnson arrived at ‘gladbach on a free transfer meaning the lure of straight profit exists.

Decent Fits: Arsenal, Aston Villa, Newcastle, Swansea City
Likelihood of Transfer: 5 of 10

KYLE BECKERMAN – REAL SALT LAKE (MIDFIELDER) 

Along with Yedlin, Beckerman enjoyed his international coming out party in this World Cup. A lock-down holding midfielder for the Americans throughout the group-stage, Beckerman displayed brilliant positioning, accurate passing and a range of tackles making him a nuisance for opposing squads looking to attack through the middle.

Controversially left out of the team that lost 1-2 to Belgium in the Round of 16, Beckerman would be a surefire transfer to the Premier League if he was south of 30 years old. Unfortunately, he’s 32. If English sides can see past that and factor in the late development of the typical American player, a two or three year deal isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

Decent Fits: Southampton, Crystal Palace, Sunderland
Likelihood of Transfer: 4 of 10

GRAHAM ZUSI – SPORTING KANSAS CITY (MIDFIELDER) 

Zusi enjoyed a decent World Cup, highlighted by his performance in the 2-1 win over Ghana and, specficially, the perfect swerving corner-kick that John Anthony Brooks thundered home to defeat the Yank’s nemesis. The rest of Zusi’s tournament was marked by inconsistent play, at times displaying smooth technique and clever link-up play but too often going lost on the pitch.

The winger went on trial with West Ham United in January 2013 but was not offered a deal. But since then Zusi has grown in talent and experience making him a possible target of a club with reasonable financial resources and a need of wingers.

Decent Fits: Stoke City, West Bromwich Albion, Burnley
Likelihood of Transfer: 2 of 10

  1. turneresq - Jul 2, 2014 at 7:58 PM

    Yedlin may get transferred (soon even), but no way Yedlin is transferred for $750k.

    • darkorameses - Jul 2, 2014 at 8:18 PM

      No one said that!! Learn to read before you make stupid comments like that. Dumb-*ss!

      • lampardintheendzone - Jul 2, 2014 at 10:35 PM

        “What is an ad hominem attack, Alex? Alright, then I will take ‘Logical Fallacies’ for $600.”

        Transfer Markt has Yedlin at $200k, albeit before the World Cup. I think $2M-$3M might be the ceiling.

  2. drewvt6 - Jul 2, 2014 at 9:59 PM

    I know you guys are officially licensed Premier League salesmen, but do we really have to imagine EVERY American player in England? Let’s get players to Germany, Holland, France, Spain….

    • amartinez99 - Jul 2, 2014 at 11:33 PM

      Agreed. If we want to develop our players technically, Germany or mid-to-just-under-top-3-level Spain would be ideal.

      • midtec2005 - Jul 3, 2014 at 9:27 AM

        Furthermore, judging by the performance of Premier League players in the world cup, I wouldn’t want our guys there at all. Germany would be my ultimate goal, if I was going abroad.

  3. mikeymo74 - Jul 2, 2014 at 10:02 PM

    Wasn’t Besler at least partially responsible for both goals against Belgium? I understand he was tired and facing a fresh Lukaku, but he never looked like a Premier League defender. He is nowhere near as good a prospect as the others on the list.

  4. braxtonrob - Jul 3, 2014 at 2:12 AM

    I’m looking forward to Besler playing in the EPL (if it happens). I honestly think he could develop into one of the best CB’s in the world.

    • korules - Jul 3, 2014 at 2:24 AM

      hahahahahahahhaa.
      What? Not a joke?

  5. jucam1 - Jul 3, 2014 at 7:53 AM

    There is no way all of these guys or evrn most of them end up in the EPL. Maybe one or two, and they’ll be back ups which does them no favors. You can’t just look at this through US glasses, there were so many players from so many other countries that are better than these guys or would make a much better fit on some EPL teams. I think these guys should look to go to other leagues or the Championship where the ones that are good enough can get playing time and if they succeed then they can look to the EPL if they are good enough.

  6. mdac1012 - Jul 3, 2014 at 9:05 AM

    Beckerman accounted for himself well in this WC but I still can’t get over the fascination the writers on this site have with the guy. I have read him described as a “genius” and a “legend” by more than one writer on this site, apparently you guys have never seen Pirlo or Paul Scholes play. The things Beckerman does, he does well but he is very limited physically. He is also 32 years old, that’s the age European stars come to the U.S. not the other way around. You could put the likelihood of any Premier League team offering him a deal at 0 out of 10.

    As far as Besler and Zusi go, I don’t really see either guy making an impact in the Premier League. I see Besler more of a Championship level player. I think Zusi could play on a lower table Premier League side and be a very serviceable player but in no way one who is a difference maker.

    Yedlin would be a guy I could see European teams having an interest in due to his age and speed.

    • midtec2005 - Jul 3, 2014 at 9:31 AM

      Beckerman may have been our best player, and leaving him out against Belgium may have been the difference.

      But you’re still right. He’s too old for a realistic transfer target. Especially since Salt Lake won’t want him to leave. He’s their best player too.

      • mdac1012 - Jul 3, 2014 at 10:24 AM

        I agree with everything you wrote, I admit that I have underrated Beckerman in the past, but I was glad to see him play well in the WC. With that said, I just notice that Beckerman tends to be overrated by some of the writers on this forum. He is a very good MLS player and the things he does well, like distributing and breaking up plays he does very well. He also has a much better leg than he gets credit for. But he is small, relatively slow and despite being a good passer, he is not great on the ball when he gets pressured. All things that, along with his age, don’t make him a realistic target for top European leagues.

  7. danielk1 - Jul 3, 2014 at 10:40 AM

    There is not even a slight chance of Omar Gonzales making it to Europe? Or do you just think he will not go to England? La Liga maybe?

  8. elgallo2001 - Jul 3, 2014 at 10:42 AM

    Yedlin is the only guy I see here with the upside. He’s young, powerful and fast. A stronger, more dynamic Assou-Ekotto like player. He was bulldozing through two European team defenses. It was an impressive performance for this young US product. I would not be surprised to see him get offers. Now, if he can just get sent to Spurs.

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