Welcome to part three of my summer preseason battle preview. You can read part one where I previewed Antonee Robinson’s road to the first team at Everton as well as part two where I previewed Matt Miazga’s chances at Chelsea. This time we’re going to switch gears and take a look at an American trying to make it in the Bundesliga – Josh Sargent.
Sargent jumped onto the scene last year when he turned heads at the U-20 World Cup as a 17-year-old. As the hype train was set in motion, Sargent also went on to play well in the U-17 World Cup last fall. His strong display with the USYNT’s peaked the interest of many clubs, including Werder Bremen. He signed his first professional contract with them on his eighteenth birthday this past February. Unfortunately, the St. Louis native was unable to play for them in official competitions last season due to signing after the January registration window. Instead he bounced between training with the first team and U-23 team. He even got called up to the USMNT for the November friendly (he couldn’t play due to injury) and the May/June friendlies, where he scored his first goal against Bolivia.
Sargent is a true striker capable of scoring with either foot or his head. He’s also adept with his hold-up play and is an excellent passer. He desperately needs to gain some experience as well as some strength, but he’s shown glimpses that he could be a star.
This summer poses a big challenge for the young man. Sargent will have to battle it out to make it in the Werder Bremen first team. While manager Florian Kohfeldt has already had a good look at Sargent in first team training, he will have to continue to impress if he wants to win a regular first team spot next season. Bremen saw great improvement under Kohfeldt last season, going from 17th in the Bundesliga in 2016/2017 to 11th this past season. This season they will look for more.
For Sargent to play a major role, he will have to beat out several good players at his position. Ishak Belfodil will depart for TSG Hoffenheim after impressing in the spring. However, Max Kruse remains. Kruse is coming off a fine season where he put up eight goals and nine assists in 33 appearances in all competitions. Fin Bartels had his season cut short by an achilles injury, but he was playing pretty well before he got hurt. He’s beginning to get up there in age, but I believe he still has more in the tank. Aron Johannsson is a name many Americans are familiar with. The United States international had yet another injury-riddled campaign last season, but he played very well in his few outings even sparking them to a strong finish to the season. Johannes Eggestein is another young player who will be in the mix, but he only made seven appearances for a total of 92 minutes last year. When prompted about possibly purchasing more attacking talent, Kohfeldt said that wasn’t in his plans, stating:
Of course Kohfeldt will likely use some combination of the players I mentioned among others in his preferred attacking front 3. Last season for example, he mostly utilized Aron Johannsson on the right wing desite that not being his preferred position. While Sargent certainly projects as a player that will lead the line, I’m sure he wouldn’t complain about getting some time on either wing as long as he’s getting minutes.
For Sargent, he will have to flash his skill while also growing and learning his responsibilities as a professional player. That’s much easier said than done. It will be a difficult task if he wants to succeed and take the field at the Weserstadion this fall. Let’s hope he can get the job done and take the next steps in his development.
Head to the comments section to discuss what you think about Sargent’s first team chances next season.