USMNT midfielder Ricardo Pepi’s loan from FC Augsburg to Groningen in the Dutch Eredivisie has been a success. The question now is does the youngster have a future in the Bundesliga or will the Fuggerstädter cut their losses?
When highly rated Pepi made the €16.36 million move from FC Dallas to Augsburg, the fee was a surprise, but many believed he had the raw talent to deal with it and succeed. Indeed, Liverpool were one of a host of clubs tracking him closely.
Thirteen goals in 31 MLS appearances in the 2020-21 season as well as two assists put the youngster firmly on the radar. The then 18-yearold signed a long-term contract with Augsburg until 2026 with both parties hugely excited about the link up. “We are delighted that Ricardo has decided to join Augsburg despite interest from a number of top clubs around the world,” said Stefan Reuter. “We were able to provide him with a clear sporting plan for his future development that convinced him to come here.”
The forecast was optimistic, but what was delivered was far from that. Obviously, the burden of the €16 million price tag on such young shoulders was heavy load to carry, but in the 475 minutes of action he saw in the Rückrunde, there was no sign of any involvement in goals- either scoring or assisting.
A loan move to FC Groningen was organised at the start of the season and even though the ‘Pride of the North’ are struggling in the bottom two, Pepi has impressed with nine goals and three assists from his twenty league starts. He also scored twice for the US against Grenda in their recent 7-1 win as well as the winner in their 1-0 victory over El Salvador.
The question is now arises as to where he plays next season. Augsburg have moved on without him while there is reported interest from Dutch clubs PSV Eindhoven and Feyenoord. The Bundesliga club will be keen on recouping at as much of their record fee as possible should they decide to sell the player.
The talent is there, but whether Augsburg is the place for the 20-year-old to blossom and grow remains uncertain.