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The next star of the MLS?

Gianluca Busio

Following the emergence of Miguel Almiron, Alphonso Davies and Tyler Adams, many European clubs have started to take a closer look at the MLS. The league had previously focused on attracting experienced players with high marketing potential to capture the interest of the American audience in the sport. However, in recent years, this focus has changed to capturing the best talent across North and South American and providing them with a platform to develop.

The next player to come off this production line of talent looks to Gianluca Busio. On his first MLS start, Busio became the third-youngest player to start a match in MLS history behind only Freddy Adu and Alphonso Davies. In the 2019 MLS season, Busio became the youngest player in league history to score goals in consecutive games. Still just 18 years of age, the American youth international is already in his third season with the Sporting Kansas City first team, having made 55 appearances for the club to date.

Capable of playing in the centre of midfield or as a left-winger, the diminutive playmaker has averaged 1.1 dribbles, 39.4 passes and 0.8 key passes per game with a success rate of 85.3% so far this season. On the defensive side, only Roger Espinoza in the SKC squad can better Busio’s 2.3 tackles whilst he has made 1.1 interceptions per game. In total, Busio appeared in 16 of Kansas’ 21 regular-season games in 2020 as the club topped the Western Conference to set-up a play-off tie with the lowest-ranked San Jose Earthquakes.

On the international stage, Busio became the most experienced player to ever represent the USA at the U17 World Cup in 2019 after scoring five goals in the qualification campaign for which he earned a place in the Best XI. In January 2020, the SKC man made his debut for the USA U20 side for who he continues to feature.

Busio is already rumoured to have gained significant interest from European clubs although this is strongest from Italy due to the player holding an Italian passport through his Italian father. Juventus, Fiorentina, Venezia, Roma and Napoli have all been touted as potential destinations for the young American although Fiorentina’s interest appears to be strongest with La Viola rumoured to have made a $3.5m bid in 2019 which was rejected.

Our calculations value Busio, based on his regular-season performances, at £3.91m although a deep playoff run could see this value skyrocket. At 18 years of age, Busio is already experienced in senior football with over 50 first-team appearances and clearly has huge potential. Therefore, the next American star could prove to be a very shrewd acquisition with a large return on investment to be made should he be given to the right platform to continue his development on the European stage.

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