U.S. Men’s National Team centerback John Brooks has a new club, and he’s reportedly broken an American record in the process.
Wolfsburg announced Wednesday that it had signed Brooks on a five-year contract from Hertha Berlin, with Brooks moving for a reported $22.46 million according to German publication Kicker. If the report is true, it would be a new American transfer record, breaking Jozy Altidore‘s €10 million fee that Sunderland paid for him from AZ Alkmaar.
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“The decision to leave my home-town wasn’t an easy one, but having spoken with Olaf Rebbe and Andries Jonker, I really wanted the move to Wolfsburg, because they both quickly convinced me of their plans with VfL,” Brooks said in a statement. “I want to play my part in helping VfL to repeat the success they have enjoyed in recent years.”
The 24-year-old defender had been with Hertha Berlin since 2007, and went on to make 119 league appearances for the Blue-Whites. Since making his debut for the USMNT in 2013, Brooks has made 30 appearances and scored three goals, including the famous game-winning goal against Ghana in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
“We are delighted about the signing of John Anthony Brooks. In securing his services, we have strengthened our defense with a highly talented and ambitious individual. At just 24, he also brings a great deal of experience,” Wolfsburg’s sporting director Rebbe said.
On its face the move seems strange, aside from the likely pay raise that Brooks is getting. Wolfsburg needed to beat out Eintracht Braunschweig to avoid relegation following a disastrous season in which it gave up 52 goals, scored only 34 in 34 games and recorded just 37 points. Meanwhile, Hertha qualified for the UEFA Europa League, finishing in sixth place in the Bundesliga with 48 points.
But it was a down year for some of Germany’s recent traditional powers, including Schalke (10th place), Bayer Leverkusen (12th place) and Werder Bremen (eighth place).
Wolfsburg was UEFA Champions League quarterfinalists in 2015 and 2016 and won the German Cup in 2016, but struggled mightily this past season despite a reported $89 million spent on signings. Unloading some of the disappointing players and bringing in some new goal scorers will be high on the team’s short list after securing Brooks.
Brooks was called in to USMNT manager Bruce Arena’s World Cup qualifying training camp last Sunday. The U.S. faces Venezuela in a friendly match on Saturday before taking on Trinidad and Tobago in Commerce City, Colo. on June 8 and then traveling to Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, Mexico to face El Tri on June 11.