Over the last three years we've seen some of the biggest names of the United States men's national team elect to come play their club soccer in Major League Soccer. Aron Johannsson is the latest USMNT player rumored to be looking for a move to the league. According to Kristian Dyer of Yahoo Sports, the AZ Alkmaar striker is exploring his options for a transfer to MLS.
Despite the drop in quality and competition for playing time, MLS offers high profile American players the most money on the market. Their strategy has been to vastly overpay these players to bring them into the league in the prime of their careers.
Clint Dempsey ($4.6M/yr) was the first big name to leave Europe for an MLS payday. Michael Bradley ($6.5M/yr) followed, and so to did Jozy Altidore ($4.75M/yr). European teams just do not value these American players as highly as MLS does. It's because they are easily marketable and for lack of a better word, getable.
Now Aron Johannsson is seeing the dollar signs and looking to cash in. He is reportedly demanding a yearly salary between $2-2.5 million. Unfortunately for him, MLS teams aren't willing to meet those demands according to Dyer's sources.
As much as we want to believe that Johannsson is the USMNT's next great goalscorer, he just hasn't proven that much in his career yet. His club numbers in Denmark and the Eredivisie are very good. He's score 29 goals in 58 total games since moving to AZ Alkmaar in 2013. Despite those great club totals, he's only managed 4 goals in 17 appearances for the USA.
While he may turn out to be a great goal producer for the U.S., he's too big of a risk for MLS teams at his high asking price. Yes, he's in the prime of his career, but he's not exactly a highly marketable name at this point. Diehard USMNT fans know all about him, but does he really appeal to the average fan?
Perhaps MLS teams are finally smartening up and dropping the strategy of overpaying for U.S. internationals. Whatever their reasoning for not shelling out mid-range designated player type money for Johannsson, it's a solid decision from a business perspective.