Exclusive - FC Dallas striker Ricardo Pepi is closer to moving to a Bundesliga club than initially expected as one German club vows to do 'everything possible' to convince the American to join, 90min sources can reveal.
The 18-year-old has enjoyed a remarkable rise this season, scoring 13 goals in 26 MLS appearances despite Dallas struggling near the foot of the Western Conference, winning just six of their 28 games so far. The Texas club recently parted ways with manager Luchi Gonzalez as a result.
His form at club level was rewarded with a first-ever call-up to the United States Men's National Team in September. Pepi scored and notched two assists on his debut as the USMNT came from behind to beat Honduras 4-1 in World Cup qualifying. As such, Pepi is the second-youngest USMNT player to score in a World Cup Qualifier at 18 years and 242 days old, only behind Christian Pulisic.
This hasn't gone unnoticed, with clubs from Italy, Germany, England and the Netherlands - many of which compete in the UEFA Champions League - at least expressing an interest in the striker.
As revealed by 90min, Ajax travelled to Dallas' game away at the Vancouver Whitecaps last weekend to make contact with Pepi's representatives. Though the Dutch giants are yet to make official contact with Dallas, the two clubs are still expected to begin talks 'imminently'.
But they face competition from an unnamed Bundesliga club competing in this season's Champions League, who 90min understand have expressed a willingness to do 'everything possible' to secure the signing of Pepi.
Interest in Italy also remains high and although it's currently unclear whether or not a bid has already been lodged at the time of writing, a Serie A club is expected to send an opening offer to Dallas in the coming days.
Despite the speculation regarding his future, Pepi was able to score Dallas' only goal in a 3-1 defeat to Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday. Next up for Pepi's side is a home tie against Minnesota United on Saturday.