Josh Sargent is a new signing that Werder Bremen fans will be chomping at the bit to see in the flesh. The talented American teenager comes from a sporting family, who are hoping that his desire to succeed will be rewarded in Germany.
In December, Sargent was named U.S. Soccer Young Male Player of the Year after the forward excelled at both the under-17 and under-20 World Cups in 2017. The next step for the Missouri native is a move to the Bundesliga, where he will sign a professional contract with Bremen when he turns 18 on 20 February.
Sargent was courted by several clubs around Europe before opting for Bremen. With 17-year-old Hamburg striker Jann-Fiete Arp proving earlier this season that age is no barrier, he could potentially be a major asset for the Green-Whites if he finds his feet quickly.
"In the end I think it was just that gut feeling that Bremen felt like home, and I feel like they’re going to be a great fit for me," Sargent said after agreeing a deal to join the four-time Bundesliga champions last September.
"I think Bremen knows that day in and day out I’ll give it my all and do everything I can to win them a trophy."
Talk of winning silverware might seem premature, but Sargent has starred at every level to date. He scored 19 goals for U.S. youth teams in 2017, finishing as second-top goalscorer at the under-20 World Cup last summer and captained the American side at the under-17 equivalent in October.
He spent time with the USA senior squad towards the end of 2017, and his father Jeff feels that his son’s dedication and work ethic – which he described as "beyond reproach" – is starting to pay off.
"He was born with a lot of talent and developed it," Sargent Snr. told Four Four Two last November. "He worked very hard… I could always tell he was very coordinated, athletic. He kind of had a gift. But as far as when did I think he’d play in Europe? I didn’t know until I started getting offers."
Sargent was the starting point guard for his high school team, but football was always his focus. Perhaps that’s no surprise, given that his father and his mother played to a good level, while both his older and younger sister practise the sport too.
As the latest U.S. import to Germany, Bremen’s new arrival will inevitably be compared to Borussia Dortmund attacker Christian Pulisic and Schalke midfielder Weston McKennie, two fellow American teens who have already made their Bundesliga breakthrough. But he says their experience helped him choose the German top flight over a move to a Major League Soccer (MLS) team in his homeland.
"MLS was definitely an option for me at first," Sargent told the American Soccer Now website in December.
"It would have been nice. Everyone speaks English and it’s only three hours away. But I believe in life you have to do what is hard for you in order to build yourself as a person.
"When you look at MLS, you don’t see many young players getting minutes. But Weston and Christian are getting minutes. I don’t know how you can refuse that."
Watch: The Bundesliga's top 10 American goals
According to his father, he has been working towards this moment for a long time.
"He was about three or four when he started saying he wanted to play soccer over in Europe because I’d always have the games on," Jeff Sargent told Four Four Two.
"He wanted to play for the national team. Obviously the odds are against you, but I never said no, you can’t or you won’t. I just kept letting him do what he wanted to do."
Sargent will find another American forward in Bremen - 19-year-old New Jersey native Isaiah Young - and is said to have chosen the club because the city feels similar to St. Louis in his homeland. But while the youngster is looking forward to his new home, his father believes that his attitude can help him win over his new followers in Germany.
"He’s not the flashiest player in the world. But I think he grows on people because he wins - he does the right thing for the right reasons. He really does want to win more than he wants to get personal goals."
Sargent’s European adventure begins in early January when he links up with Bremen at their winter training camp in Spain. Though his new team are third from bottom halfway through the season, he is still confident that he has made the right choice.
"Werder isn’t doing too well, but the fans are amazing and are still attending every game," he told American Soccer Now.
"It’s an amazing atmosphere. The city is amazing - same with my teammates. I just loved it when I went there."
Having bided his time to get there, Sargent finally has the chance to make Bremen love him right back.