After speculation by fans on the status of Haji Wright and the course of his career, we may finally get some definite answers.
According to a report on Metro, Haji Wright will join Schalke 04 this spring. Wright is currently 17 and unable to sign a deal with the German side but, according to Metro’s sources, a deal is in place for March.
Wright left the club at the conclusion of the 2015 season after his contract expired. Wright made a handful of appearances on the first team while featuring more often on Cosmos B in the NPSL.
There was some surprise when the standout US youth international passed up the opportunity to join an MLS side for the Cosmos instead, although there has been speculation that the requirements on MLS rookie contracts and the opportunity to learn from figures like Raul and Marcos Senna may have factored heavily into his decision.
Now, that decision may have paid dividends as his talent, release from his contract, and possibly even his connection with Raul (who we understand to be on good terms with Schalke) may have resulted in a solid opportunity in Europe.
While some fans were surprised at the departure from the Cosmos, the club seemed to understand the direction Haji wanted to go.
“In relation with Haji, we wanted to make sure he was prepared for what he will face in Europe,” said Head Coach and Sporting Director Giovanni Savarese in a recent Reddit AMA. “We wanted to make sure we are a club that helps develop players in that transition, so they are more prepared for what they encounter in Europe. We had a plan from the beginning, and we are very content in how we helped Haji. We believe he has grown tremendously personality-wise and has developed an ability to compete with professionals. And now that we’ve been able to give him the tools to be more successful in the next step – I’m sure it will be known soon enough – people can see the things we’ve been able to do.”
While this is a great opportunity for Wright, it’s important not to forget what this means for the Cosmos themselves. With Alexis Velela, another American youth international, on the team already and the success of Haji Wright to make it to Europe, this may signify that additional youth talent will look at the Cosmos, and the NASL as a whole, as a new path to success.
Wishing Haji Wright all the success overseas.