Neymar trade to Paris Saint-Germain may benefit Arena’s squad
The summer 2017 transfer window brought many changes to the soccer landscape, though there may be none quite as impactful as that of Neymar da Silva Santos Jr. Commonly referred to as Neymar, the Brazilian forward announced his plans to leave F.C. Barcelona shortly before his move to Paris Saint-Germain F.C. The transfer fee of $263 million was more than double the previous record of $116 million, set when Manchester United F.C. enlisted the services of midfielder Paul Pogba in 2016. Neymar’s transfer broke one of the most illustrious attacking forces in club soccer history, consisting of Neymar and F.C. Barcelona captain Lionel Messi on the wings and Luis Suarez playing in the middle as a striker. In the company of legends like Messi and Suarez, Neymar felt that he would never be recognized as the talented young player that he is. He had no problem finding the back of the net since arriving in Barcelona in 2014 at the age of 21, scoring a career high of 24 goals in the 2015-2016 La Liga season.
To replace the departed Neymar, the Catalan giants brought in Ousmane Dembele from Borussia Dortmund. Dembele, the 2017 Bundesliga Rookie of the Season, left Germany for Spain on a $125 million fee, making him the second most expensive player in history behind Neymar.
U.S. soccer fans have much to look forward to with Dembele gone from Borussia Dortmund. With the first team’s right midfield position now vacant, Dortmund looked to their bench and found Christian Pulisic of Hershey, Pennsylvania as a replacement.
A potential U.S. wunderkind, Pulisic will now regularly play as a starter in Bundesliga and Champions League matches. Pulisic is in good company at Dortmund; fellow squad members include prolific striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, the scorer of the World Cup-winning goal in 2014 Mario Gotze and FIFA 17 cover player Marco Reus.
Pulisic turns 19 on Sept. 18, leaving him plenty of time to make an impression in Europe. While many U.S. fans may lament that Pulisic is not playing for a home club, it is a pill that many fans find bittersweet as the Bundesliga is considered to have one of the greatest youth development systems in the world. The potential amount that Pulisic can grow may make him the first true soccer star to hail from the United States.
Other promising young soccer players from the United States may also get their chance in the spotlight. Tottenham Hotspur F.C.’s Cameron Carter-Vickers has already seen more game time since the club traded fellow defender Kyle Walker to Manchester City F.C. On the club’s defensive line, Carter-Vickers will play alongside central defense and Belgian national team captain Toby Alderweireld, as well as other stars like Christian Eriksen and Harry Kane.
Erik Palmer-Brown is another young U.S. defender that fans have their eyes on. At only 20, the promising young player has already served as captain of Sporting Kansas City. News broke that Palmer-Brown is close to a deal with Manchester City F.C., where the young U.S. player would play alongside some of the greatest players in the game today, including Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne.
Nonetheless, a number of promising young U.S. players were already given their chances on the international stage and proved less than successful. Kellyn Acosta’s poor form at the CONCACAF Gold Cup left many questioning his place in the national team going forward. Other potential talents include Seattle Sounder F.C. teammates Jordan Morris and Christian Roldan, not to be confused with Cristiano Ronaldo.
Although the United States and national team head coach Bruce Arena may not be putting their best feet forward in the qualification rounds, it appears likely that the United States will qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia anyway. In the case that the U.S. team makes it to Russia, Arena’s first-choice squad will not be an easy decision. Indeed, despite the strides being made in developing U.S. players across the world, the United States is far from joining nations like Brazil and Germany on the list of elite soccer powers.