Ricardo Pepi: USA's $20 million forward is unsure of his club future

Among the ways in which international professional soccer differs from traditional American sports is the "transfer fee."

Instead of players being traded between clubs, players are price-tagged, bought and sold.

A portion of the transfer fee goes to the players (signing bonus) and another to their agents, who in international soccer profit most significantly — some may say obscenely — from transfer fees.

In Americans sports, agents earn primarily from a percentage of players' endorsement deals (10%-20%) and salaries (3% to 4%). In international soccer, agents thrive off what clubs pay them as intermediaries during player movement.

Fifty years ago, Barcelona paid a transfer fee of $2.2 million to Ajax Amsterdam to acquire Johan Cruyff. That 1973 amount comes to about $15 million in 2023 dollars.

Midway through the 2021-22 Bundesliga season, fourth-from-last-place Augsburg paid a reported transfer fee of $20 million to acquire then 18-year-old Ricardo Pepi from FC Dallas.

It more than doubled Augsburg's club record transfer fee — for a teenager who had barely found his groove in the pro game.

Pepi failed to score in 14 Bundesliga appearances. The move abroad would prove to doom his prospects of being part of the 2022 World Cup after he had boosted its qualifying campaign.

One game into the 2022-23 season, Augsburg's sporting director Stefan Reuter announced that Pepi had requested a loan, and sent him to Dutch Eredivisie's Groningen.

The move placed Pepi on another lowly team poorly suited to creating scoring chances for a center forward.

Groningen finished in last place and was relegated, but of its 31 goals, Pepi scored 12 goals and assisted on three.

Ricardo Pepi signed with struggling Bundesliga club Augsburg in the middle of the 2021-22 season.

By April, Pepi said he didn't want to return to Augsburg. His agent, Jaime Garcia, criticized Augsburg for not "knowing how to deal with such an investment."

Reuter responded that Augsburg wasn't considering selling Pepi and that Pepi's qualities fit Augsburg's playing style.

That Pepi could score a dozen goals with the lowliest Dutch club sparked the interest of the top Dutch clubs, title-winner Feyenoord and runner-up PSV Eindhoven.

SportBild in April reported that Augsburg would be willing to let Pepi go – for a transfer fee that recouped its investment. PSV's biggest splurges in recent years have been in the $8 million range and Feyenoord has never paid more $9.5 million for a player.

Bundesliga fifth-place finisher Freiburg, whose highest transfer fee for a player was $11 million, could be a good fit for Pepi.

Now valued at $9 million by transfermarkt, Pepi is contracted through 2026 to Augsburg, which could also consider hammering out another loan deal.

Pepi is now in the USA, at national team training camp ahead of next week's Concacaf Nations League semifinal against Mexico in Las Vegas.

"I'm really focused on these next two games with the national team," Pepi said. "I really haven't thought about what's going on with [my club] future.

"I leave that up to my agent."

6 comments about "Ricardo Pepi: USA's $20 million forward is unsure of his club future".
  1. frank schoon, June 8, 2023 at 9:52 a.m.

    So Pepi didn't want to go back to Augsburg. SA should try to interview him and ask WHY, and ask him WHAT difference did he find between dutch and german soccer and WHAT has he learned about the game that helped him as a player either playing in Germany and Holland and WHAT does  dutch soccer stress more, technically and tactically in their game....WHAT does he prefer.......

  2. humble 1 replied, June 8, 2023 at 10:52 a.m.

    The last remark is concerning - 'I leave that to my agent'.  Your agent is an idiot kid.  Fire him.  Pronto.  He made good money taking you to a down in the dumps German team, one that is not famous for develop talent, but for moving up and down thru the German divisions.  Then he helped you to another down in the dumps team, this time Dutch. Look, I know Luis Suarez was there at  Groningen, and it's a solid dutch team, but again, it not a regular top tier team in the Erediviseie.  Americans, excepting a few, who have felt it first hand, do not understand what it is to be in relegation situation.  It tears a club up.  It is no situation for development. My trained at a top tier club attached to a top 4 team in South America - we were excited he had the chance to train with this prestigiuos academy.  We did not know that their youth team in his calendar year that year - underperformed - and that the coach was under pressure.  Yes - at the academy level - even in the youth contexts - there is pressure.  On his first day in training - two players got into a scrap - it was ugly.  The next day our contacst advised we switch to another academy - to train with a group a year older - where we were told the coach and director were top class - the academy was just as good - not as prestigious - still at top 20 academy - one that has a starting player at Barca - great development environment.  In development - you must avoid these pressures.  MLS does not have this - this is an advantage - clubs like FC Dallas leverage.  They probably run an operational profit - as opposed to most MLS clubs that run in the red - because they sell from academy - they bring players - like Ricardo - to first team - paying a price - maybe putting them in bottom three - but - they get paid - not relegated.  Anyway - that his agent put him in these two dumpster fires - abroad - where he did not speak either language - says he is an idiot.  Fire him Ricardo.  The Natty Team will be your place for couple of weeks - your next club - will be for the next years.  You need to recover two years.  Your next stop will the critical factor in whether you have a top level career - or not.  Good luck son!  

  3. frank schoon, June 8, 2023 at 11:19 a.m.

    Agents, are making the money...very corrupt process

  4. Santiago 1314, June 8, 2023 at 11:41 a.m.

    I wonder what his actual SALARY is.???
    Augsburg will be glad to get THAT off the Books, If they can Loan him out again;
    Also, I wonder how much Groningen Paid as a "Loan Fee".
    Got to be at Least Double his Salary for it to make sense to Augsburg.
    Double that and he could be playing for PSV or Feyenord next year...
    That would be a Good Deal for all...

  5. frank schoon replied, June 8, 2023 at 12:01 p.m.

    Yeah, who knows....
    Check this out, Santi

    PELE did it first #pele #brazil #football - YouTube

  6. Santiago 1314 replied, June 12, 2023 at 10:16 a.m.

    Didn't quite get the Whole Pele Effect from that Link;
    But, you sent me down "The Rabbit Hole" to many other good Links.!!!
    "Wasted" a good 45 minutes of the Companies Time... :) Thanks

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