The Gateway to Europe: A new revenue stream
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TransferRoom Blog

MLS
The Gateway to Europe: A new revenue stream
by Jonathan Rest

Philadelphia Union and FC Dallas have shown the rest of Major League Soccer what the standard looks like for teams that can have success finding, developing and selling young talented players. How have they done it? How do they repeat the success story? The answers are coming.

As the transfer market matures in MLS, transfer fees are becoming an ever more important revenue generator. And with the two best academies in the league, the Union and FC Dallas are reaping the financial rewards.
TransferRoom

Ernst Tanner, Sporting Director of the Union, and Andre Zanotta, Chief Soccer Officer and Technical Director at FC Dallas, will give their exclusive insights at the TransferRoom Americas Summit: Special Edition in Orlando, Florida on February 14 and 15.

 

As the transfer market matures in MLS, transfer fees are becoming an ever more important revenue generator. And with the two best academies in the league, the Union and FC Dallas are reaping the financial rewards.

 

Zanotta began 2022 negotiating with FC Augsburg for the sale of Ricardo Pepi (main picture, left), which at $20m represented the most expensive outgoing homegrown player transfer in MLS history. He only made his MLS debut in June 2019.

 

Pepi was the latest in-demand FC Dallas homegrown player after Bryan Reynolds (AS Roma), Tanner Tessmann (Venezia) and Reggie Cannon (Boavista) moved to top European leagues in recent transfer windows.

 

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Two of the best in the business: Tanner (left) and Zanotta (right)

 

A year ago, Tanner was in the same position - selling defender Mark McKenzie to KRC Genk in Belgium. A few months earlier Brenden Aaronson (main picture, right) had departed to Red Bull Salzburg in Austria.

 

The sale of the Union’s two top homegrown players brought in $13m. 

 

Still the Union ended 2021 as finalists in the MLS Eastern Conference Finals and semi-finalists in the CONCACAF Champions League.

 

No wonder the club was eager to extend Tanner’s contract last year.

 

Before their time in MLS, Zanotta was negotiating the departures of top young talent in Brazil, including Neymar from Santos to Barcelona, while in Europe Tanner played a key role in the discovery and/or development of the likes of Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane while at Hoffenheim and Red Bull Salzburg, respectively. 

 

Their experiences gained and contacts created working in exporting markets is paying dividends as MLS players continue to look eastwards to further their careers.

 

In Orlando, Tanner and Zanotta will discuss: 

 

  • Building an elite academy
  • The strategy of selling to Europe
  • Repeating the success stories
  • Player development versus chasing trophies
  • Scouting South America
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