One of the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team’s (USMNT) most promising prospects and FC Dallas star, Ricardo Pepi, is on the move. The 18-year old El Paso native has officially joined the German club, FC Augsburg.

The German club reportedly paid a $20 million transfer fee to FC Dallas for the young striker, the largest fee for a player in Major League Soccer (MLS) history. Pepi’s contract with Augsburg will last through June 2026, with an option for one additional year.

Pepi had been seeking a move to Europe for some time; reports were released in October that he had submitted a transfer request. However, FC Dallas president Dan Hunt remained confident that Pepi would not be moved.

“Definitively, I expect Ricardo to be back next season with us,” Hunt told The Dallas Morning News’ Abraham Nudelstejer in early December. “By playing next season in Dallas, Ricardo can help us win a championship; he can help the national team qualify for the Qatar World Cup and then play in that World Cup.”

Hunt cited USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter’s strategy of only calling players to the national team who see regular action with their professional clubs as a reason Pepi should want to stay.

“Ricardo needs to play and keep scoring goals.” Hunt stated, “Berhalter and other head coaches around the world have shown that if players aren’t participating in their clubs, they’ll be excluded from their respective national teams.”

“Ricardo’s future is incredible and shining, but I think the best Ricardo can do for his career is continue his process. He’s still very young.” Hunt continued.

Pepi has been part of FC Dallas since age 13 when he was signed to the club’s youth academy. By age 16, Pepi was signed to FC Dallas’ senior level to finish out the 2019 season.

Pepi ended the 2020 season with only two professional goals under his belt. Despite that, he had shown more than enough promise for FC Dallas to give him a five-year contract before the 2021 season. Pepi showed he was worthy of the extension with a breakout season as the team’s leading scorer with 13 goals and three assists.

His performance earned him the MLS’s 2021 Young Player of the Year award, given to the best player in the league under age 22.

Pepi made his debut with the USMNT on September 8 in a World Cup qualifying match against Honduras. He instantly made a difference, scoring the go-ahead goal and notching two assists in a 4-1 U.S. win. He has been a mainstay on the national team roster ever since, his best performance being the 2-0 U.S. win over Jamaica last October, in which he scored both goals.

Thanks to his performance for club and country, several European suitors expressed interest in the young phenom.

Wolfsburg, another German club, was considered a frontrunner in the competition to land Pepi, but a final deal never materialized. Teams from the English Premier League and Italy’s Serie A also reportedly showed interest.

In the end, FC Augsburg was the club that won the Pepi sweepstakes by making a record-setting offer that FC Dallas could not refuse.