Who is Aaron Long? Things to know about the American star
There is a long list of Americans who have left Major League Soccer for a career in Europe, and according to reports, New York Red Bulls defenseman Aaron Long could be the next man on that list.
The 28-year-old is rumored to be on the radar of several England teams.
Reading, Southampton and West Ham have all been linked. However, it is a report suggesting he could sign a short-term loan to help ease the defensive injury crisis at Premier League champions Liverpool that has turned the most heads.
Let’s take a closer look at Long.
Club: New York Red Bulls
Trophies: MLS Fan Shield 2018
Individual awards: MLS All Star 2018, MLS Defender of the Year 2018, MLS Best XI 2018, Gold Cup Best XI 2019
international selections: 18 (3 goals)
Often used as an example of why young players should never give up trying to be successful, Long only became a center-back in 2016 after being faced with the prospect of giving up the game.
A box-to-box midfielder by trade, Long struggled to find a team in the summer of 2016 after being released by his second team, until Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch offered him a luck as a defender.
Long openly admits he never liked the idea of being a defender, but as a 23-year-old without a single minute of top-level football to his name, he was forced to consider other options.
Not only did Long successfully transition to a center-back, but he took MLS by storm.
His first minute in the league came in March 2017 and by the end of 2018 he was widely regarded as one of the best defenders the division had to offer.
Long was named the 2018 MLS Defender of the Year, before finishing sixth in the vote in 2019. Not bad for someone who had only been in the role for a few years at the time.
After this exceptional 2018 season, Long quickly found himself linked to a move to Europe. Eintracht Frankfurt, West Ham United and a mysterious Ligue 1 side all tried to sign him but all were pushed back.
The Red Bulls are open for sale – they are well aware that Europe will soon be claiming any MLS star – but they are done enjoying it.
“He can play in almost any league in the world. But what we need is another club to see their value and come out in force with an offer that makes sense for our club. We’re not just going to give away our best players, ”coach Chris Armas told SI.
As a late bloomer, Long often expressed concerns that he had already wasted a lot of time in his career, so when the chance to move to Europe presented itself in 2018, he looked forward to it. enjoy.
Red Bull’s refusal to sanction a deal has created a wedge between the club and the player. Long is believed to have been devastated by the breakup of the move, while his desire to leave has also drawn criticism from some of the team’s fans.
However, he never let his feelings get in the way of his work. Long is seen as a professional role model who has remained loyal to the Red Bulls, while making it clear that he would like the chance to test himself abroad.
Long opened up about his European ambitions in an interview with ESPN, insisting he was confident in his ability to make the leap to a top league in Europe.
“The interest of scouts says that I can play in the Bundesliga and that I can play in the Premier League,” admitted the California native. “I think these are two leagues that match my attributes – a tall, strong, fast center-back who is decent with his feet.”
While Long’s admission that he’s only “decent” with his feet suggests that he knows this isn’t a major force in his game, his passing skills have often left fans begging for more. .
A common criticism of Long is that he lacks composure and courage with the ball at his feet, and he’s often not the most reliable option when it comes to playing from behind.
That’s not to say he’s a constant passive at the back, but maybe don’t expect any parting passes from Long’s defense.
One thing those who have watched Long all agree is that his face-to-face defense is the skill that takes him to another level.
Combining his exceptional anticipation with above average athleticism, Long knows how to position his body to neutralize defenders, and it has earned him a reputation as a nightmare to play against.
Long is also considered a real threat in the air. His ability to outsmart attackers is evident, and that also makes him an asset for set pieces.
Long rarely hides his affinity for Arsenal, and you’ll find him regularly reminiscing about his childhood as a Gooner.
“I was an Arsenal fan, so I really liked Patrick Vieira, so he was kind of my guy,” Long said (via Goal). “He was just a destroyer. Against the ball he was amazing, getting the ball back and then with the ball he could make the game look pretty. It was one of those things he could do and do on both sides of the ball. for, in my opinion, one of the best teams in the world. “
However, his idol was not from Arsenal, but rather from the former Fulham star and fellow American Carlos Bocanegra.
Several of the reports on Liverpool’s potential interest in Long cite the defender as captain of the USA team.
The center-back has led the USMNT in four games so far, although the honor of becoming the team’s captain has changed a lot.
DeAndre Yedlin, Wil Trapp, Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Tim Ream and Zack Steffen have also received the armband in the past five years.
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