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American midfielder Caden Clark transfers to RB Leipzig

The uncapped 18-year-old is heading to the Bundesliga next winter.

Orlando City SC v New York Red Bulls Photo by Ira L. Black - Corbis/Getty Images

One German club is increasingly becoming appointment viewing for American soccer fans.

The New York Red Bulls announced that Caden Clark is moving to RB Leipzig for an undisclosed transfer fee. The 18-year-old midfielder will remain on loan in Major League Soccer for the rest of the year. He signed a contract with the Bundesliga side through the 2024 season. According to ESPN, Barcelona was “following” his progress.

“I am extremely grateful for the opportunities that the New York Red Bulls have given me,” Clark said after signing. “Being able to not only develop but play significant minutes at USL and MLS here has truly helped me grow professionally. I will continue to do what I can to help this team win its first MLS Cup.”

Clark began his youth career with the Minnesota Thunder before moving to the Barça Residency Academy, which also produced Matthew Hoppe and Julian Araujo. Amid interest from a host of clubs, he joined the New York Red Bulls USL reserve side in February of 2020. The club promoted him to the first team last October after acquiring his rights from Minnesota United.

Playing as an advanced midfielder, Clark quickly became one of the top young stars in MLS. He has scored six goals in 12 total appearances, a veritable highlight reel of volleys and long range finishes. The teenager thrives in the vertical-attacking style, constantly looking to push the ball forward and make late runs into the box. A tireless work rate allows him to be an asset in the Red Bulls’ relentless gegenpressing system, which should enable a somewhat smooth transition on this intra-ownership transfer.

Leipzig, which finished second in last season’s German Bundesliga, plays a similar style to its New York sister club, with some minor tactical differences. Recently hired manager Jesse Marsch will be looking to establish his own pecking order, potentially creating an opening for Clark to find a place at the notoriously ruthless talent factory alongside fellow American midfielder Tyler Adams. Red Bull places a priority on youth development, providing a platform to the world’s brightest young prospects and in turn selling them to fund the next round of acquisitions.

At the international level, Clark has never appeared for the United States with any age group. However, he was recently named to the 59-player preliminary roster for the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup. A recent appendectomy may prevent his inclusion on the final squad.

This appears to be a smart move for Clark, who likely initially joined the New York Red Bulls organization with this progression in mind. Bypassing the intermediate step of Red Bull Salzburg in the Austrian Bundesliga indicates that he could be ready to contribute in the near future. Leipzig are no longer considered upstarts, but an established club with realistic designs on winning the Champions League, only one season removed from a semifinal finish.

Is this a good move for Caden Clark? Let us know in the comment section.