Explained: Why MLS MVP finalist Sebastian Driussi rejected Premier League interest to sign contract extension
- 2022 MLS MVP finalist
- Three-time champion at Zenit
- Came up through River Plate youth ranks
WHAT HAPPENED? The 27-year-old scored scored 22 goals in MLS last season, making it three countries in which he's reached double-digit goals (Argentina, Russia, United States). He was rewarded with a new contract until 2025 that has an option for an additional year - and he accepted it despite interest from Leeds in the Premier League.
WHY DID DRIUSSI REJECT PREMIER LEAGUE? Given MLS' reputation as a stepping stone league for players under 30 years old, Driussi's decision surprised people unfamiliar with his relationship with Austin. But head coach Josh Wolff said Driussi still has unfinished business in MLS and believes he can develop further with abundant playing time in the U.S. before considering a move later in his career if the right offer arrives.
WHAT THEY SAID: "It's a decision that Sebastian has and he has full control of that," Wolff told reporters. "So I think his intentions were quite clear to us; his ambitions are with Austin FC. What the future holds beyond Austin FC, when that happens, if it ever happens? We will see.
"He can set himself apart from any other great player that this league's had, he really can. He's 18 months into his MLS tenure, career. There have been many great players, many great Argentineans. Landon Donovan is who the MVP is named after and I think there are many great MVP winners. Sebastian hasn't won one yet, but I know he is passionate about putting himself in a position to win an MVP."
AND WHAT'S MORE: Driussi added: "As you know, there was a very important offer from a club in England. But, well, my head was always in Austin."
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THE BIGGER PICTURE: Keeping Driussi is a big deal for the stature of MLS. The division will be hopeful his extension paves the way for other stars in their primes to prolong their careers in the United States rather than jumping at the first opportunity to leave.
WHAT'S NEXT FOR DRIUSSI: The forward will get his MLS season underway on February 15 against expansion club St. Louis City SC.