Arsenal and USMNT center-back Auston Trusty has departed from North London in a permanent move to newly promoted Premier League side Sheffield United. The Gunners have parted ways with the 24-year-old defender for a reported fee of £5 million.
The American international’s career began in 2016 in his home-country for MLS Next Pro Divison side Bethlehem Steel. The Pennsylvania based club being the official affiliate of MLS giants Philadelphia Union, often developed and nurtured young talent for the latter. After breaking in the first-team and 44 appearances for Bethlehem Steel over the next 2 years, Trusty rose through the ranks and made his debut for Philadelphia Union in March, 2018 after signing a home-grown player deal with the MLS side.
The defender cemented his position in the squad as he played every single minute of the 2018-19 MLS season and started 22 games in the 2019-20 campaign. In November 2019, he completed a permanent transfer to Colorado Rapids and went on to feature heavily for the Denver side till January, 2022 when Arsenal came calling.
After joining the Gunners in a deal worth around £1.5 million, he was immediately loaned back to fellow KSE (Kroenke Sports & Entertainment) owned club Colorado Rapids till the end of the 2021-22 season. After returning to his parent club in London in July 2022, Trusty was deemed surplus by Mikel Arteta and a loan move to Championship side Birmingham City was sanctioned in order for the defender to get regular action.
Trusty went on to have a stellar campaign at St Andrew’s as he proved to be a solid figure at the back for the Championship side. Starting 44 of the club’s 46 league games and registering 4 goals and 2 assists was enough for the center-back to be voted as Player of the Season by the Birmingham City faithful. His impressive campaign earned him a senior debut for the USMNT in March, 2023 as he started in the CONCACAF Nations League group stage against Grenada and got an assist in a 7-1 victory for his side.
Mr. USA! 😎#Awards23 pic.twitter.com/6CIdue06Uh
— Birmingham City FC (@BCFC) May 5, 2023
Following a scanty involvement in Arsenal’s pre-season fixtures where the 24-year-old featured for a total time of 40 minutes combined as a substitute against FC Nurnberg and MLS All-Stars, speculations regarding a move away from The Emirates were inevitable. With reports of Swansea City and Ipswich Town being interested in acquiring the defender, Sheffield United emerged as front-runners.
Welcome to the Blades, Auston Trusty! ✍️🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/JCL8JWxILo
— Sheffield United (@SheffieldUnited) August 3, 2023
The Blades made a return back to the Premier League after they finished as runner-ups to Vincent Kompany led Burnley in the Championship last season and have been busy in the transfer-market since then with 3 new players signed and a medical completed for Trusty. Sheffield manager Paul Heckingbottom confirmed rumors on Tuesday night by saying: “I think we’re virtually there with that. He’s had a medical and we’re ready to go.”
As a left-footed center back, Trusty would have been below Gabriel Magalhaes and Jakub Kiwior in Arteta’s pecking order. As the Premier League runner-ups brace for the upcoming campaign, certain departures from the club are imminent. Speaking at the end of the club’s US tour, Arteta reiterated the same by saying: “We have 30 players here which is unsustainable. Obviously, the market is still open and things can happen.”
The Gunner’s are certainly going to stay busy in the market as Trusty’s fellow USMNT teammates Matt Turner and Folarin Balogun are both linked with moves away from North London as well.
What can Sheffield fans expect?
Last season, one of our renowned author – ballprogression, spoke with Callum, a massive Birmingham fan about Trusty. I will just copy-paste that interview here:
Welcome, first of all can you tell us a little bit about yourself and where does the love for Birmingham City come from?
My name is Callum and I’m a massive Birmingham City fan. My family are Birmingham City fans and they took me to a game when I was a young boy. The first player I truly fell in love with was Nikola Zigic who I believe is one of the greatest target men the game has ever seen.
What are the expectations around the club and where do you see them finishing this season?
We were tipped off by everybody to finally get relegated this season after surviving the drop year after year for the last decade or so. We’ve surprised a lot teams so far, currently at 14th in the table and 5 points off playoffs. I believe a top half finish would be a great season for us but you have to aim higher.
Lets get into it. How has Auston Trusty acclimated to life in the Championship and what’s the season been like for him?
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I think both Arsenal and Birmingham City fans can admit when this signing was announced they didn’t know too much about him and naturally wasn’t enthused by the signing. Nobody expected him to play every single minute of the first 13 games and be a stand out player along with that. He’s adapted to English football really well and looks very comfortable in this team. We’ve used him in on the left in a back three as he’s left footed. He’s proven already to be strong in the tackle, and quick to recover if he makes a mistake or needs to make ground from another individual’s mistake. He’s been crucial so far and he’ll only get better as the season goes on.
What is his role like? Does he join in attacks occasionally or step into midfield, does he stay back at all times?
He predominantly stays back at all times but gets up the field for corners and free kicks. He’s proved to be a threat in the air offensively as well scoring two goals against Bristol City at the weekend and was just inches away from securing a hattrick. The first goal was a header from a corner and the second goal was a header which hit the post but came back to him for the tap in.
He looks like a strong figure, what’s he like in duels and general commanding of his area?
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He’s strong in the duel and has proved it over the first 13 games, against Bristol City he won 9 duels alone. He’s typically strong and doesn’t get beaten often but on the off chance he has that pace and strength to recover the ball which is a great combination to have in your arsenal.
How is he on the technical side of things? What’s his ball-playing ability like?
I’m glad this question was asked as I believe this is one of the weaker sides to his game. His distribution from the back seems to be one of his weaker points but statistically, it’s still not too bad. This is an aspect of his game he will hopefully improve on over the course of the season.
How well can he find players between the lines when building from the back?
This part of his game is good but there’s definitely still room for improvement. He links up with players like Longelo, Bielik and Chong really well by leading from the back, giving them the ball so they can turn and play forward and they know he’ll be there in position to receive the ball again if they need to go back and restart.
Aha, room for improvement… Would you say he can struggle when coming up against teams who press him deep into his territory? Is that the area you think he can improve the most in?
I’d say the opposite to that, when I’ve watched him and he’s facing his own goal trying to handle a press he typically deals with it very well. In this team, if we’re under pressure we typically go back to Ruddy who can distribute the ball really well and get it out of the final third.
So he prefers to keep it safe more so than looking for risks when playing the ball out?
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Exactly that, I think at this level in the team he’s in it’s the best option to play it safe the majority of the time. Maybe as he develops he could take more risks over the course of the season and in the future.
This is a part of his game that’s improved over the 13 games, from the first game to now, the difference is night and day. The way our wing backs push up he’s been forced to increase his range of passing and that’s been a part of his game that’s definitely improved because of this.
Can he cover big spaces when the team pushes up the pitch or does he have issues there?
His pace is one of his best traits along with his strength. Naturally, as a young player, he has a mistake in him every so often but they are sparse. When he has made a mistake or someone has got in behind he has proved to have the ability to get back and make the tackle or block a shot. One of the games where he did this best was in the first game against Luton. In his first game, he was probably feeling some nerves and pressure to make an impact to ensure he made a good impression on the new manager. He was beaten once in the first half and he tracked back to block a shot from close range which was destined to go in.
In other games where other defenders have made mistakes, he’s proved a few times he can cover the ground to get back and make tackles for them. This is one of the best parts of his game and we haven’t had a defender who can do this on a consistent basis in years.
Where does he rank among the best central defenders of the league currently and what is his ceiling like in your opinion?
I always tweet he’s the best defender in the league but if we’re being honest he’s definitely in the top 5, there might be a few better than him in teams like Sheffield United and Burnley but outside of that top 6 he’s definitely the best in my opinion. He’s still in his early twenties and he’s playing consistently well in the Championship. In my opinion, he definitely has a future in the Premier League if he continues to improve at the rate he’s going.
Whether he has a future at Arsenal or not, time will tell. At the end of the season providing the season goes smoothly and he stays injury free he could be a good squad player for Arsenal or a potential Holding replacement. The fact he’s a left-footed center-back being fast and strong is definitely desirable, I think he’s a player Arsenal should be excited about and worth keeping tabs on.
That’s all from Birmingham’s very own Callum, make sure you follow him on Twitter @1875cal. I thank him once again for doing this interview with us, it was a brilliant insight into who Trusty is as a player and his season so far. We’ll most likely do one of these again at the end of the season to see how he’s progressed.