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John Tolkin signs new Red Bulls contract amid European rumors

Homegrown left back was tied to Anderlecht earlier this year

SOCCER: AUG 13 MLS - Orlando City at New York Red Bulls
John Tolkin is committing to the Red Bulls for now after a standout 2022 season.
Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

On a day when fresh European rumors sprouted up around Gerhard Struber, another key New York Red Bulls figure linked overseas committed to the club on Wednesday.

The New York Red Bulls announced this morning that defender John Tolkin has been signed to a new Major League Soccer contract. The announced terms of the contract have Tolkin in MLS for four years through 2027. Additionally, the team holds an option for an additional year in 2028.

At just 20 years old, the homegrown academy product Tolkin has easily been one of New York best assets on defense this season. After sharing the left side with Andrew Gutman in 2021, Tolkin took full possession of the role following Gutman’s return to Atlanta United FC.

The Chatham, New Jersey native has excelled in New York’s high-pressing style under Gerhard Struber and has been a near-constant presence in the team, with the third most minutes of any player this season (2,658), behind only Carlos Coronel and veteran Sean Nealis. Tolkin leads the team in tackles won (53) and interceptions (70), a full 28 more than Nealis in second. It also came with an honor last month when Major League Soccer named Tolkin to the league’s 22 Under 22 list at number 6.

All of this praise has come with some international attention as well. Earlier this year, US national team coach Gregg Berhalter name-checked the defender as someone who was considered for the June international window. Following an injury to USMNT left-back Antonee Robinson during a match with Fulham last month, rumors circulated that Tolkin was in contention to make the national team roster or camp in the final World Cup prep window. This didn’t come to pass, but there remains an outside chance Tolkin could be invited to an off-schedule MLS-only friendly camp being held by Berhalter later this month.

The new contract comes as interest surrounding Tolkin has picked up overseas as well. In August, Belgian reporter Sacha Tavolieri reported first division side RSC Anderlecht was eyeing up the defender. This came around the same time the Belgian club had lost left-back Sergio Gómez to Manchester City and were looking to replace him. Multiple European clubs reportedly sought out information on Tolkin’s current status in the waning months of the summer ahead of the 2022-23 season.

The thought process was following the World Cup this winter, Tolkin was going to Europe. The new MLS contract means two things. Either Tolkin will be in Harrison until he’s 26 or, more likely, any team that buys out that contract will pay Red Bull handsomely.