Ricardo Pepi is a unique talent. He really seems to have something special and even in Europe the best clubs have noticed this 18-year-old Texan striker who FC Dallas are protecting like he’s worth his weight in gold. It’s not just the United States men’s national team that has enjoyed his goalscoring feats, and his evident growth has turned the spotlight on as many clubs pay attention to young players as potential transfer targets for the present and the future. This is why between January and June, in the next two market windows, a surprise move cannot be ruled out.
A year ago, during the January 2021 window, there was already an Italian club interested in Pepi, who did not start but played 22 minutes in Sunday’s 1-0 World Cup qualifying loss to Panama. The deal could not proceed for regulatory reasons. Clubs in Serie A can only register two non-EU players per year, which left this club with no room to advance negotiations with FC Dallas. There was just no way to get a deal done.
Now Italy remains a possible destination, as has already happened for Weston McKennie, Bryan Reynolds and Gianluca Busio, three Americans who have landed in Serie A in recent years. They will not be the last ones as Italian directors have become fascinated by American-made talent from El Paso. There are two Serie A clubs that have gathered information on Pepi in recent weeks. For now the status of negotiations is still preliminary and the identity of the clubs and their intentions remain top secret.
One thing that’s clear, however, is that those who expect to be able to buy MLS players for cheap prices prices are sure to be disappointed. Pepi will not move for €5 million as some newspapers in Europe are speculating. More money and a serious project will be needed to convince FC Dallas and their explosive young talent. Pepi, born in 2003, is already showing so much talent that it’s not only Italian clubs that are showing interest. Among other possible destinations, Ajax have been studying his progress closely for months, but so far he haven’t made any official offers.
Pay attention to the Bundesliga as well. Several clubs in Germany including Wolfsburg and Werder Bremen have already reached out to their contacts to understand the situation of Pepi. And even Bayern Munich, where he and five other FC Dallas homegrown players trained in January, have asked for information on the player who the excellent scouting of the German club has been following for some time.
From Germany to Italy, Pepi is on everybody’s radar. Those who know him well are confident that even though he’s young, Pepi does not get distracted. On the contrary, he is totally focused on FC Dallas, the national team and his professional growth which cannot afford to stop in the face of so many rumors. But in January, the market around him will start to percolate, so keep an eye for any possible surprises.