Photo Courtesy of the LA Galaxy - Julian Araujo

Replacing Julian Araujo at Right-back

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The Julian Araujo to Barçelona Atlètic – AKA Barça B – transfer saga is closed with the LA Galaxy announcing that he has been transferred and Barcelona staging their photo shoots. Barcelona still has an appeal on Araujo’s registration, but that’s now a Barcelona problem.

UPDATE (2/17/23): Greg Vanney spoke to Jeff Carlise of ESPN and said there’s “not even a possibility” that Araujo would return to the Los Angeles Galaxy via loan.

This is a simplified version of the U22 initiative. Teams may sign a player who:

  • is at most 22 years old or younger, and may be considered a U22 player under that initial contract up until the age of 25;
  • makes no more than the annual max budget charge (i.e. 2023: $651,250; there are exceptions for homegrowns); and,
  • there is no limit on any incoming transfer fee paid.

Beyond this, the rules get a little murky when the player turns 26, determining the amounts of outgoing transfer fees that can be converted to General Allocation Money, and when considering mandatory slot occupation lengths.

So who’s available and who’s been rumored? When speaking of availability and rumors, it’s important to consider whether it’s not just a possibility, but is it reasonable and logical – or even likely – for the player to leave their current situation to come to Major League Soccer (MLS) and the Los Angeles Galaxy. Do they play in an inferior or superior league and/or team? Do they even play? How much do they play?

Here’s our list:

Lucas Felipe Calegari, 20, Fluminense (Brazilian Serie A)

A homegrown product of Fluminense’s academy, Calegari is currently the backup right-back for Fluminense and this will be his fourth season with the senior team. He had a breakout season in 2020, playing 22 of 38 games and helping Flu finish 5th overall. However, his playing time has gone down each subsequent season, and this season, he has only played in 43% of available minutes thus far. Calegari is known best for his speed and ball-dribbling ability. He has great vision and makes very good decisions. The Brazilian Serie A is regarded as the best league in the Americas and a perennial top-10 league in the world. While a move to MLS will be seen as an inferior league move, being a bench player isn’t going to help him further his growth. And at 20 years old, Calegari could benefit from being a starter and actually playing in an up-and-coming league like MLS that is seeing more and more players – especially defenders, and specifically, right-backs – make the move to Europe. All in all, Calegari would be an adept replacement or even an upgrade at the right-back position over Araujo. This, indeed, is the type of player Galaxy should pursue – and if rumors are true – are pursuing. It was reported that Flu rejected an offer from the Galaxy.

But Vanney confirmed Fluminense and Calegari are on the short list after the match on Saturday night.

Nathan Santos de Araujo, 21, Santos (Brazilian Serie A)

Nathan is a product of Vasco da Gama’s academy – a former team of Cobi Jones. He signed with Santos after a seemingly successful spell with Portuguese side Boavista last season. Now back in the Brazilian Serie A, however, things have not gone as planned for him and he has not seen as much of the field as he would like, having only played 33% of available minutes in 2023. Like Calegari, Nathan is good on the ball and has great speed. Some scouts project him as a center-back due to his height, but he has both the athleticism and skillset to play as a right-back. Nathan is a player that both deserves and needs to see the field. A change of scenery might do the trick for him. Nathan is a player that has kept a low profile and flown under the radar but would be a menace for the Galaxy in MLS flying down the right flank.

Ignace Van der Brempt, 20, RB Salzburg (Austrian Bundesliga)

Van der Brempt comes from Belgium via KV Mechelen and Club Brugge. He signed with RB Salzburg last January but unfortunately has not been able to break into their starting lineup or play regularly. While the Austrian Bundesliga is regarded as being inferior to MLS, RB Salzburg, however, isn’t. They are perennial Champions League participants, having won 13 of the last 15 Bundesliga Championships, and 9 of the last 11 Austrian Cups. At 6’3” Van Brempt is another player that is also projected to be a center-back, but for the moment, has the ability and skill set to perform well as a right-back. While not as polished as some of the more elite right-backs on this list, he plays with solid fundamentals to go along with his deceiving speed. His play resembles that of former LA Galaxy player Sean Franklin.

Gonçalo Esteves, 18, Sporting CP (Portuguese Primeira Liga)

Esteves was developed by Portuguese sides FC Porto and Padroense and made his professional debut with Sporting CP. This past January, he returned from an unsuccessful loan spell with Estoril Praia and is currently playing with Sporting’s B team. Esteves has consistently been called up to the Portuguese national team throughout the youth ranks. He has great speed and a low center of gravity that allows him to quickly change directions. Sporting will most likely look to move this player in the summer, but an earlier move might be more beneficial to the player himself.

Georgios Vagiannidis, 21, Panathinaikos (Greek Super League)

And finally, to round out our list is Vagiannidis. Here is an interesting case. This is a player who was developed by Panathinaikos, moved to Italian side Inter Milan, hit a restart, and went back to Panathinaikos’ B team. In a span of five years, it appears that Vagiannidis regressed during some of the most crucial years in the development process. More recently, he was promoted to the first team and appears to now have locked down the starting right-back position for first-place Panathinaikos. His dribbling and fearlessness to take on players are reasons why LA Galaxy have been rumored with a move for this upcoming season.

Notable mentions:

Jeremy Ngakia, 22, Watford (English Championship)

Natanael Moreira Milouski, 21, Coritiba (Brazilian Serie A)

Rasmus Carstensen, 22, Genk (Belgian Pro League)