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Haji Wright leaves Cosmos, European move likely

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Haji Wright is no longer a New York Cosmos player. The NASL clubs opted not to renew his contract, a widely anticipated move for the 17-year-old who has starred for various United States youth teams. Now Wright will likely look to sign with a European club, effective in March.

Wright came up in the LA Galaxy academy, but did not sign with them. He trialed with several European clubs, including Schalke, as he looked to make a move to Europe. The problem is that FIFA rules bar players from joining clubs outside their home country until they are 18 years old so to get around it, he opted to sign with the Cosmos. They would allow him to leave when he was 18, while the Galaxy probably would have wanted a long-term commitment from him.

Wright turns 18 in March so he can't yet sign with a European club, but he's only four months away from being able to do so. He'll now look around for one to sign with, weighing both how much the club will pay him and what the situation is like for playing time and development. Odds are, he will go to the club for stretches of training upon deciding on a club before joining full-time once he turns 18.

The spring will be a development time for him, with a full offseason and preseason in the summer giving him a chance to make a run at establishing himself in the first team. Jurgen Klinsmann will definitely be keeping a close eye on him after he played well for the United States U-17 team. Wright is now with the U-20's and is ready to test himself in Europe, which the Americans' manager has pushed players too so if it all works out -- which is admittedly a ways off -- then it would almost certainly put him in Klinsmann's good graces.