In April, New York Red Bulls star defender Aaron Long did an interview with Hercules Gomez from ESPN FC which shed some light on Long’s failed move to Europe last summer.
The Red Bulls rejected several offers for Long’s services from top-flight European clubs. Reports said that West Ham in the English Premier League made an offer, as did Eintracht Frankfurt from the German Bundesliga. There was also a third club whose advances were rejected, this one from an undisclosed Ligue 1 team. Several media outlets like SBI (via Sky Sports) reported that Olympique de Marseille was keen on signing the Red Bulls star and could possibly have been the unnamed French team looking to purchase the California native.
During the 50 minute interview, Gomez asked Long if he was frustrated over those failed transfers; effectively “putting his European dreams on hold” as Gomez phrased it:
“Yeah, a little bit. I think the best thing that helps with those frustrations is just trying to be transparent in those moments; [me being] transparent with the club and the club being transparent with me. I think that [transparency] really smooths over those situations and makes them go a lot easier”. Aaron Long – ESPN FC
Long’s agent was extremely outspoken on the subject after the transfers failed to materialize, feeling the Red Bulls reported $15 Million dollar price tag was unreasonable. Long side-stepped the topic when Gomez pressed him about it, saying:
“I don’t want to speak to that because I don’t want to discuss actual numbers. But, in terms of transparency, it’s like – listen guys, this is a dream of mine and I would love for you to make it possible. [In turn] Red Bulls are saying – we need a fair offer & they don’t think they got that at the time. So, I guess we just have to move on”. Aaron Long – ESPN FC
The Red Bulls had a similar situation with Kaku last season when the club rejected a transfer offer from Liga MX side Club America; which led to a well-publicized spat between the player’s representatives and team brass. Red Bulls hierarchy felt that Club America’s bid was too low for a player of Kaku’s caliber, echoing the same sentiments when clubs came in for Long last summer (and in January).
Gomez also asked Long if believes he has the talent to play in Europe, Long replied “yeah, absolutely” without any hesitation.
“I think, from the interest that I’ve gotten from the scouts, from different clubs, I could play in the Bundesliga or the Premier League” said Long. He continued, adding “I think those are two leagues that fit my attributes well as a big, strong, fast Center-back [that’s] decent with my feet”. Aaron Long – ESPN FC
At the time of the Premier League work stoppage due to the COVID-19 pandemic, West Ham were sitting 16th on the table with 27 points, just two points clear of AFC Bournemouth in the relegation zone. The Hammers struggled to defend all season, allowing 50 goals while losing 16 of their 29 matches. Only Southampton, Aston Villa & Norwich City conceded more goals.
In 2018-19, Long made 38 tackles, with a majority of them (25) coming in New York’s defensive third. Long also had 43 blocks, 34 interceptions, 228 clearances, a 55% tackle percentage vs. dribbles, and won 109 aerial duels (69%) while only committing two errors the entire season. Long also contributed offensively, scoring two goals in 29 matches while connecting on 82.7% of his medium-range passes and 49.8% on long-range passes.
Those statistics, combined with West Ham’s -15 goal differential; you can see why the club was looking to sign the RBNY defender, hoping his steady presence could sure up their porous back-line.
Long seems resigned to the fact that New York will not sell him for pennies on the dollar, and has said all the right things in the media. Long is genuinely a nice guy and wants to do right by the club who took a chance on him in 2016 after failing to break into Seattle’s first team. However, it is clear that Long has an eye for Europe and at 27 years old (turns 28 in October) his time is running out.
Once MLS play resumes, New York may be forced into making a tough decision regarding the U.S. International’s future with the club.