Inter Miami & New York City FC dominate: The most valuable U21 players in MLS


Mijatović up by 100% 

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All eyes have been on Major League Soccer ever since Lionel Messi arrived at Inter Miami CF this summer. But the top league in the United States and Canada is certainly more than just Messi. In fact, in recent years, several young players have made the move from one of the 29 teams playing across the North American continent to one of Europe’s top four leagues. Whether it is Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich), Jhon Durán (Aston Villa), Brenden Aaronson (now Union Berlin), or Tyler Adams (now Bournemouth), just to name a few, MLS is increasingly producing promising players for Europe. 

MLS market values: The most valuable players after the March update

25. Julián Carranza | Philadelphia Union | Market value: €6m

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24. Jovan Mijatović | NYCFC | Market value: €6m

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Market value change: +€3m

23. Aaron Boupendza | Cincinnati | Market value: €6.5m

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22. Pedro de la Vega | Seattle Sounders | Market value: €6.5m

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21. Ryan Gauld | Vancouver Whitecaps | Market value: €7m

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20. Diego Rossi | Columbus Crew | Market value: €7m

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19. Liel Abada | Charlotte FC | Market value: €7m

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(Shown here in his old Celtic colours)

18. Alan Velasco | FC Dallas | Market value: €7m

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17. Luciano Acosta | FC Cincinnati | Market value: €8m

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16. Dániel Gazdag | Philadelphia Union | Market value: €8m

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15. Petar Musa | FC Dallas | Market value: €8m

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14. Evander | Portland Timbers | Market value: €8m

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13. Gabriel Pec | LA Galaxy | Market value: €8m

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Market value change: +€2m

12. Jesús Ferreira | FC Dallas | Market value: €9m

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11. Joseph Paintsil | LA Galaxy | Market value: €9.5m

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10. Sebastián Driussi | Austin FC | Market value: €10m

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Market value change: -€2m

9. Denis Bouanga | LAFC | Market value: €10m

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8. Talles Magno | NYCFC | Market value: €10m

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7. Hugo Cuypers | Chicago Fire | Market value: €11m

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6. Hany Mukhtar | Nashville SC | Market value: €12m

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5. Riqui Puig | LA Galaxy | Market value: €12m

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4. Cucho Hernández | Columbus Crew | Market value: €13m

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3. Facundo Torres | Orlando City | Market value: €14m

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2. Thiago Almada | Atlanta United | Market value: €27m

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1. Lionel Messi | Inter Miami CF | Market value: €30m

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Market value change: -€5m

After the most recent MLS market value update, it is time to take a look at the most valuable players aged 21 or younger to take stock of who could be the next wonderkid making the move to Europe. Indeed, it is a list dominated by Messi’s Inter Miami and Man City’s partner club New York City FC. 

Major League Soccer: All new market values at a glance

The most valuable U21 players in Major League Soccer 

Talles Magno: Top of the list is a Brazilian playmaker whose market value has been a roller coaster since he joined New York City FC for €7.3m from Vasco Da Gama in May 2021. Once a promising talent in Brazil, Magno struggled at first in MLS, and his market value dropped to just €7m. But a strong 2022 season saw his market value increase to €15m. That market value, however, has been on the way down all the way to €10m once again after scoring just four goals and three assists in 34 games across all competitions. The start of the season has been once again poor as well. Talles Magno is undoubtedly talented, but does he have the consistency to become a top player? Time will tell, but at the moment, the trajectory suggests a significant downgrade in the summer. 

Federico Redondo: Inter Miami pulled off a real coup on the transfer market when they signed Redondo for €7.45m from Argentinos Juniors this winter. The son of former Real Madrid legend Fernando Redondo, the 21-year-old was considered one of the most talented players playing in Argentina. “I thought he would go to one of the top five leagues,” Transfermarkt Area Manager Argentina and South America Scott Christensen said earlier this winter. “I have heard rumors about AC Milan and considering that his father has played there, it seemed like an exciting opportunity. But it seems like playing with Messi and Sergio Busquets was a big draw.” Indeed, Redondo is often compared to Busquets, and passing up the opportunity to learn from the maestro himself was too good to pass up. 

Alan Velasco: FC Dallas made Velasco the club’s record transfer when they signed him for just over €6m from Independiente in February 2022. At the time, Velasco was thought to head to Europe and had a market value of €12m. But the Argentine saw his market value drop to just €7m and is currently out with a cruciate ligament injury. Dallas hope that Velasco can soon improve on his 13 goals and seven assists in 64 games to improve his market value and hopefully be sold with a profit to Europe. That hope, however, is currently on hold as Velasco suffered an ACL tear in November that will keep him out of the Dallas squad until at least the end of May. 

Jovan Mijatović: This is another surprise transfer. Brought in by New York City FC in a deal worth €8m, Mijatović saw his market value double from €3m to €6m as part of the latest MLS market value update. Mijatović is considered one of the hottest prospects in Serbian football, and NYCFC is likely just a stepping stone for the 18-year-old super talent. Indeed, the City Group, which also owns Man City and Girona, hopes that Mijatović could follow a similar path to Argentine superstar Taty Castellanos. Castellanos was sold to Lazio for €15m after impressing in New York and then Girona. Mijatović’s ceiling, however, might be even higher as he could be a player to one day feature for Man City. 

Caleb Wiley: The Atlanta United left-back comes in just behind Mijatović at €5m. The 19-year-old burst onto the scene at the start of last season with three goals and two assists from the first four MLS games. The productivity slowed down following his rocket-like ascent at the beginning of the season. But despite just one more goal and assist in the remaining 26 games, Wiley remained a consistent starter for Atlanta United. After a solid start to the 2024 season, he stays in the notebooks of several top European clubs. 

Major League Soccer: The most valuable U21 players at a glance

Tomás Avilés: Inter Miami CF signed the 20-year-old Aviles for €6.3m from Racing Club in the wake of the Messi transfer, and the center-back hit the ground running, scoring one goal and two assists in 11 MLS regular season games. This season, he has started in every single MLS game for Inter Miami as he continues to develop into a strong defender. Aviles was signed on the behest of Miami head coach Tata Martino and is part of a club strategy that wants to see established stars surrounded by upcoming talent from both the US and South America. 

Facundo Farías: Falling into the same category as Avilés is his teammate Farías. Inter Miami CF signed the attacking midfielder for €5m from CA Colon after the Messi transfer. Farías has scored three goals and one assist in 11 MLS games since arriving in July. Like is the case with Avilés and Redondo, the Inter Miami ownership around David Beckham hopes that Farías benefits from playing with the likes of Messi and Sergio Busquets to develop into a player that can be sold with a profit to a top European club. 

Agustín Ojeda: Ojeda is the second new NYCFC signing on the list. Signed for €7m from Racing Club, Ojeda is another player for the City Group. Indeed, NYCFC seems to be an ever more important link in the production chain on which end players are either good enough to play for Man City or are being sold for a profit. But Ojeda might need some time to show his full potential and, as a result, Transfermarkt somewhat cautiously increased his market value to just €5m as a first step. After all, the winger has featured in 29 minutes across two MLS games to start the season. 

Omar Campos: Campos is another new signing on the list. LAFC signed the 21-year-old Mexican left-back in a €4.6m ($5m) deal from Liga MX side Santos Laguna. And Campos has hit the ground running, starting in his first four games for his new club. He then missed the fifth game this last weekend as he was with Mexico’s U23. Early indications highlight that Campos is one to watch as LAFC are once again one of the title candidates in MLS.

Julián Fernández: The 20-year-old continues the long tradition of Argentines playing for New York City FC. Altogether, eight Argentines have worn the sky-blue jersey of the New York-based MLS franchise. Indeed, in Ojeda, the club has added yet another Argentine to the squad this season. The most prominent is Taty Castellanos, who, after a strong season at Girona in LaLiga plays for Lazio in Serie A. NYCFC signed Fernández for around €4.4m from Vélez Sarsfield with the hope that he could develop in a similar vein as Castellanos.

Diego Luna: “Marco Reus was the player I watched the most as a kid,” Luna told Transfermarkt in an exclusive interview last year. “Reus has a different style of play. It isn’t simple but makes it look simple; it is very creative, and he is good at using both feet and would roam the pitch. That really caught my eye, and it is something I model myself after.” Based on last season, Luna is on the path to follow, scoring five goals and one assist in 23 MLS regular season games; the 20-year-old attacking midfielder scored two goals in three MLS Cup Playoff games. This season, Luna has firmly established himself as a critical player at RSL and, before joining the U23 USMNT, has scored one assist in four MLS games.

Major League Soccer: The biggest winners of the March 2024 update

Chris Brady | Chicago Fire | + 66.7%

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New market value: €2.5m

David Martínez | Los Angeles FC | + 66.7%

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New market value: €2.5m

Agustín Ojeda | New York City FC | + 66.7%

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New market value: €5m

Quinn Sullivan | Philadelphia Union | + 75%

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New market value: €3.5m

Samuel Adeniran | St. Louis CITY SC | + 76.5%

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New market value: €1.5m

Enes Sali | FC Dallas | + 92.3%

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New market value: €2.5m

Alejandro Bran | Minnesota United FC | + 100%

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New market value: €250k

Patrick Schulte | Columbus Crew | + 100%

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New market value: €3m

Jovan Mijatović | New York City FC | + 100%

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New market value: €6m

Esmir Bajraktarević | New England Revolution | + 135.3%

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New market value: €2m

Nicksoen Gomis | Toronto FC | + 150%

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New market value: €250k

Marino Hinestroza | Columbus Crew | + 150%

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New market value: €2.5m

Andrew Thomas | Seattle Sounders FC | + 166.7%

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New market value: €200k

Fidel Barajas | Real Salt Lake City | + 233.3%

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New market value: €1m

Fernando Álvarez | CF Montréal | + 400%

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New market value: €500k


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