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Mixed reaction from fans as Aaronson comes back for next season
Tuesday, 11th Jun 2024 22:25 by Tim Whelan

In a surprise move, Brenden Aaronson has decided to return to Leeds for the 2024/5 season after talks with Daniel Farke. It’s fair to say that some fans are happier about this news than others.

12 months ago the American decided to activate the release clause in his contract and go on loan to Union Berlin rather than having to take a pay cut. By all accounts he had a poor start to the season but his form improved as it went on, and he provided the ‘assist’ for the first goal in their crucial 2-1 over Freiburg as they secured their survival on the final day.

So Aaronson narrowly avoided a second successive relegation and he appeared in 30 of Union’s 34 games in the Bundesliga, though in a few of these he played for less than 90 minutes. He contributed only two goals for their cause, but that’s one more than he managed in his first season for Leeds.

Aaronson’s release clause is still active, but apparently he has made the opposite decision to that he made last summer, and has come back to Elland Road because he has ‘unfinished business in England’. And this is despite the fact he will have his pay cut to half the level it was when we were in the Premier League.

At first I cynically assumed he was returning because we were stuck with him as no other club was interested, at least not if they had to pay his full wages at their original level. But not so according to the Athletic, who have reported that he “had interest in Germany”, but “Farke plans for the American to play a key role in a new promotion push”.

Some of our fans are quite a lot less keen, as they haven’t forgiven any of the players who went out on loan last summer. A typical comment on social media today was “He was useless bar the first couple of games [in 2022/3] and jumped ship at the first opportunity. I’d sell him for anything we could get”.

Although selling him for anything isn’t quite such an easy option as you might think. We paid a hefty £25million for him and offered him a 5 year contract, presumably due to Victor Orta underestimating the difference in standard between the Austrian league and the EPL. With three years still to go his book value is still 60% of what we paid, or £15m. If we sell him for less than this, it will create a loss which will count against us under the FFP rules.

Other fans think that while he’s with us we may as well make the most of it, noting that we’re now in a division where he won’t look quite so far out of his depth, as long as can cope with the physicality of a tough league. The US international is still only 23 (24 in October) so may yet bulk up a bit as he approaches the peak years of his career.

Another comment is “Trust the manager, he will get the best out of him”, noting that Dan James’ career got back on track last season under Daniel Farke. And one fan wonders “Is this a stroke pulled by Red Bull?” which presumably though helping to finance the club or via their influence over a player who was formerly at Red Bull Salzburg.

Meanwhile, the Yorkshire Post have pointed out that FIFA rules now limit clubs to six six outgoing international loans this year rather than the previous seven, but this might not have been a factor because Robin Koch will no longer be on our books, with his contract expiring at the end of the month. Unless there’s any intention to send any players abroad who aren’t there already.

Aaronson’s next port of call will be the Copa America, where he will be representing the USA during the close season, so hopefully he won’t be blown over by a gust of wind during that tournament. If he does get back in one piece it remains to be seen if he can claim a regular place in our starting eleven, though his return might be a sign that we will consider offers for Rutter in order to balance the books.

Last season we managed to forgive Willy Gnonto for trying to force a move once he started to make a contribution to the team once again, and we will probably get behind Aaronson if he successfully manages to re-integrate himself back into the side. And he might pave the way for a few other prodigal sons to return, with Wöber perhaps being the most likely. Let’s hope it all works out.


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