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Could John Brooks leave Hertha Berlin after Europa League elimination?

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Speculation time. Our favorite time.

Hertha BSC v Bayer Leverkusen - Bundesliga Photo by Matthias Kern/Bongarts/Getty Images

Hertha Berlin and John Brooks were unceremoniously knocked out of the Europa League on Thursday. A 3-1 second leg defeat to Danish side Brøndby in the third and final qualifying round sealed the Bundesliga club’s fate. Before their domestic season has even started, their European campaign is kaput.

Just minutes after the result became public knowledge, social media speculation kicked into high gear about the future of United States defender, John Brooks. Could this disappointment lead to a transfer of some sort?

It could be argued that Brooks’ transfer value is as high as it’ll ever get. After coming off of very successful Bundesliga season, he was one of, if not the best players for the U.S. in the Copa America this summer. As much as we hope that the sky is the limit for Brooks, he could be realistically be reaching his peak. If that thought is in the back of Hertha’s mind then a sale could become possible.

It wouldn’t be a stretch to think that Brooks would be in high demand all over Europe. Last year he was linked to Premier League and Bundesliga teams. Bayern Munich were even sniffing around during last winter’s transfer window before he signed a contract extension with Hertha. However, contracts in soccer really don’t mean much in terms of security for holding onto players these days.

With the Europa League failure, Hertha will miss out on potential prize money from making group play and so on. Last season, a club received about $2.6 million for reaching the group stage, plus about $400,000 for every win in the group stage.

While that’s not an extreme amount of money, it’s still a nice chunk of change that the club are missing out on. Couple that with the fact that Brooks likely has grander ambitions than just playing in domestic competitions, a move doesn’t seem so weird.

Despite already playing in the Europa League qualifying round, UEFA rules state that Brooks is still eligible to play in either the Champions League or Europa League group stage with another team if he makes a transfer.

Rule 18.07 states that if a player features in the first, second or third qualifying rounds of either the Champions League or Europa League, he can play for another club in either competition from the group stages onwards, provided his former employers do not reach the group stages themselves.

Without Brooks being cup-tied, he becomes even more attractive as a transfer target for clubs about to embark on a long season full of fixtures both domestically and in Europe.

At this point in his career, the 23-year-old is becoming a proven commodity in the Bundesliga and the international level. You can bet that Hertha Berlin are fielding calls about him now that they’ve been eliminated from Europe. Right now this is all purely speculation, but it’s not the craziest idea to think he’ll be lured away from the German capital by a club looking to bolster its squad before the transfer window shuts on August 31.

Brooks has proven about as much as he can with Hertha. The time could be right, for him personally maybe not for the club, for a move to bigger and better opportunities.

He has to make sure to be careful if he does decide to move. He cannot put himself in a position where he’s relegated to a reserve role. Playing time is one argument for staying put for another season, but there’s always going to be a risk in moving clubs. He just has to be certain that any potential suitors are going to give him the best chance at winning a spot in the lineup.

Brooks has become one of the most important players for the U.S. national team this year. Whether it’s at Hertha Berlin or another club in Europe, this season will be a very important one in his burgeoning career. Another successful season and a show of consistency and he could reach levels no other USMNT defender ever has.

What say you? Think Brooks will make a move some time this season? Or will he stick it out at Hertha Berlin?