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UEFA Champions League clubs in pursuit of LouCity’s Joshua Wynder

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 03/03/23, 10:04AM EST


2022 U.S. Soccer Young Male Player of the Year finalist is coming off breakout season in USL Championship

Louisville City FC's Joshua Wynder is coming off a 2022 season in which he was a finalist for U.S. Soccer's Young Male Player of the Year and the USL Championship's Young Player of the Year awards. | Photo courtesy Em-Dash Photography / Louisville City FC

Numerous top clubs in Europe are vying for the services of Louisville City FC and United States youth international Joshua Wynder, LouCity Head Coach Danny Cruz told ESPN’s Herculez Gomez and Cristina Alexander on Futbol Americas on Thursday night.

The 17-year-old center back, who last year was a finalist for both U.S. Soccer’s Young Male Player of the Year and the USL Championship Young Player of the Year, is set to be the latest young talent from the Championship to make the move to Europe, with the potential of a transfer as early as this summer following Wynder’s 18th birthday this May.

“There’s been a lot of teams all throughout Europe, a lot of Champions League teams, that have been looking at him,” said Cruz. “I think ultimately we try to have as many discussions as we can with the player, with family, with his agent, and Josh is going to end up going to a place that he feels is best for his development.”

A Louisville native and graduate of the LouCity Academy, Wynder had a breakthrough campaign in 2022. He made 24 appearances across the regular season and playoffs, appearing in all three of the club’s postseason contests as it claimed the Eastern Conference title for the fourth time. Wynder also earned his first youth national team call-up and helped the United States U-19s go undefeated through the year, twice captaining the side.

This January, Wynder went on a training stint with Portuguese power Benfica and participated in the United States U-20 Men’s National Team camp as it began its preparations for the FIFA Men’s U-20 World Cup in Indonesia this May.

Having earned a $1 million valuation from website Transfermarkt late last year, Wynder’s prospective move is anticipated to break the current USL Championship transfer fee record. That mark has previously been held by Diego Luna, formerly of El Paso Locomotive FC and now at Real Salt Lake, and Kobi Henry, formerly of Orange County SC and now at Ligue 1 club Stade de Reims, and is currently held by 2021 Championship MVP Hadji Barry, who joined Egypt’s Future FC from Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC last October.

Cruz, whose new contract as LouCity’s Head Coach was announced on Thursday, praised the work being done at the league and club level across the USL in player development, and believes Wynder’s quality could take him to the very top of the game.

“I think when you look at what the league has done, and you look at a lot of these young players and then making the moves over to Europe, I think it’s a testament to the work that a lot of these clubs in the league and the academies are doing,” said Cruz. “When you look at Josh, he’s come in and he’s grown up right in front of us. He’s had an excellent year. He’s continuing to develop into an amazing young player. And I honestly believe that the sky’s the limit for him.

“We’re hopeful that he continues to grow with his time here, and we'll see how long that is.”

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