Leeds United: Brenden Aaronson explains why he was so keen to join Whites - despite flirtation with relegation

Even before Brenden Aaronson became their first signing of the summer, the American had already experienced the agonies of Leeds United.

But it did not put him off and the Whites wasted no time after confirming their Premier League place for next season in completing the first signing of what will need to be something of a rebuild under new coach Jesse Marsch.

Although Aaronson played under Marsch at previous club Red Bull Salzburg, Leeds’s interest pre-dates his fellow American’s February arrival.

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He should, however, be a good fit for the new style of play and promises to be a much-needed creative force in a midfield which has been over-due some refreshing.

International class: Leeds United's new signing Brenden Aaronson in a USA international. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

Leeds had two bids, the second of around £20m, turned down by Salzburg in January, with the Austrian club unwilling to do business whilst they were still involved in the Champions League and an ultimately successful push for a second consecutive Austrian double.

Rather than sign someone else – a decision which came perilously close to backfiring – the Elland Road club quickly agreed a £25m deal to go through once the campaign was completed.

It may have saved them some money given how Aaronson caught the eye in the first leg of their Champions League last-32 tie with Bayern Munich.

But the deal would surely not have gone ahead had they not been able to secure their place in the Premier League, which they were only able to do with victory at Brentford on Sunday.

New kid on the block: Leeds United’s new £25m USA international midfielder Brenden Aaronson. Picture: LUFC

“I had to play with my team and give them all I had for the rest of the season but to the side I was looking to the results at Leeds and the last one had me sweating a little bit!” admitted 21-year-old Aaronson.

“Me and my girlfriend were in Vienna at the time (of the Brentford game) and I was pacing around the cafe sweating, it was a tough to watch but they got the win.”

The deal announced yesterday evening will officially go through on July 1 subject to a work permit and international clearance but as an 18-capped international, that should be a formality.

He is in the squad for matches against Morocco, Uruguay, Grenada and El Salvador this month.

Sweating on it: Leeds United's new signing Brenden Aaronson watched the win over Brentford in a Vienna cafe, knowing a win would see him head to Yorkshire. Picture: Leeds United.

He has scored five goals for his country as the US qualified for this year’s World Cup finals in Qatar.

Aaronson had 10 assists and six goals in 41 domestic appearances for Salzburg last season, and it is clear he is as focused on making goals 
than scoring them, if not more so.

“I’m a team player, I work hard for the team but I also have this creative side to me and I’ll hopefully get tons of goals 
and assists,” Aaronson commented.

Aaronson worked with Marsch at Salzburg, but the coach explained that even when the player first came to Europe in January 2021, having started his career with Philadelphia Union in Major League Soccer, it was a signing presented to and approved by him, rather than one he actively sought out.

The presence of Marsch “was definitely a factor,” said Aaronson, “but in general the club was such a massive pull for me – how big, how historic it is, how the team is.

“Behind the scenes with the family feel here, I think the club can go far.

“The fans are fantastic and if they keep doing what they’re doing we’re going to reach the top of the game.”

The signing is the first instalment on chairman Andrea Radrizzani’s promise in the wake of the win at Brentford to “work hard with Marsch this summer to improve the squad and find a way to deliver the kind of performances you all deserve”, but there is much more that still needs to be done.