The Philadelphia Union have received concrete offers for center back Mark McKenzie and midfielder Brenden Aaronson.
Union head coach Jim Curtin confirmed that in an interview with Fox Sports The Gambler Tuesday afternoon.
“There’s real offers that are coming in." Curtin said. "(Sporting director) Ernst (Tanner) handles those. I have some input in if the timing is right for the players. Obviously, we’ll speak and we’ll have some meetings at the end of the week to put some things in motion internally, and we also recognize now that if one does go out, we have to bring a good one in as well."
McKenzie and Aaronson impressed throughout the MLS is Back tournament, which concludes Tuesday night with a final between Portland and Orlando City, the two teams the Union did not beat in six games at ESPN's Wide World of Sports.
Both players have been linked to a handful of European clubs in multiple reports over the last few weeks.
Curtin believes that both players are ready to take the next steps in their respective careers.
“To see Mark’s growth and development as a center back that can pass through the lines, dribble out of the back, that can hit a 50-60-yard right and left-footed diagonal. He’s ready. He can play." Curtin said. "I’m confident enough now and I’ve seen enough center backs that have gone on to Europe, he’s ready to do it. It’ll have to be the right fit and the right club at the right time and it has to make sense for both sides. I can say with confidence Mark is ready to take that next jump. I’m going to cherish every day I have with him because he’s a great kid and a fun guy to work with, but I can say as his coach that he is ready to make the jump."
“Brenden is the same," Curtin continued. "He and Mark both. Often times when the buzz starts and there’s lots of eyes on games and people hear that there are scouts that are watching all over the world, they tend to shrink and get a little bit smaller. These two grew and blossomed. Part of that was they have good players around them and our team is playing good soccer. To see them now grow and get better each and every day is something we’re excited about. To their credit, what a special month it was for them in that competition and the things they showed down there have taken them to the next level. The interest in the club is only going to grow, and with that when more teams come in the dollar sign goes up, which is both a good thing for the club and those individuals as players."
Curtin admitted the Union will have internal discussions on how to replace both players when they move on from the club.
Jakob Glesnes, who was signed in the offseason, is expected to land in McKenzie's starting spot next to Jack Elliott, but replacing Aaronson at the No. 10 will be more difficult.
“Specific to us, we do have great center backs. We do have Jakob, who is a starter anywhere else in the league. He missed some time dealing with a visa issue and regained his fitness. We have some depth there. The No. 10 position is a little trickier to replace. We have our work cut out for us, but there will be a plan in place and an action plan moving forward. But it has to make sense for all sides moving forward. It’s a good problem to have. We have some really good players that a lot of clubs in the world are tuned in on, which means it’s good for the Philadelphia Union badge. More importantly, more kids are going to recognize it now and want to play for the Philadelphia Union because they will be on the field and they will have the possibility to go to a top club in Europe. It’s a great advert for our academy and club. It moves us forward in a big way."
No matter where each player lands, the Union will have to navigate a new type of transfer market that is affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think you'll see all over the window that it’s going to be an interesting window when it comes up," Curtin said. "That goes for players coming in and going out because it’s a whole new market. Sometimes there’s opportunity and the prices will be lower than they might have been before. You might have desperate teams that need to make a big move so it’s a little bit of luck and timing. With this pandemic that we’re in, the market is going to shift and change. In some instances, that can be a good thing because teams are desperate and have to pull the trigger and maybe you get a bigger number. Then in other instances, it might go dry at a position where there’s some depth at."
The Union resume MLS regular-season play August 21 at the New England Revolution. The game can be heard on Fox Sports The Gambler!
Be sure to hear Jim Curtin's latest interview on the #DailyTicket with Sean Brace!