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Wolfsburg sign John Brooks from Hertha with record fee for U.S. player

Wolfsburg have completed the signing of U.S. international defender John Brooks from Hertha Berlin for a reported €20 million ($22.4m) -- a record fee for an American player.

The reported transfer fee doubles the previous highest reported fee for an American -- the €10m AZ Alkmaar received for Jozy Altidore from Sunderland in 2013.

Brooks, who was born in Berlin and has never played for another club, had been under contract at Hertha until 2019, but sporting director Michael Preetz said a day earlier that the center-back had requested a transfer. Brooks signed a five-year deal at Wolfsburg.

"It wasn't an easy decision to leave my hometown, but after the talks with [sporting director] Olaf Rebbe and [coach] Andries Jonker I wanted to join Wolfsburg because both soon convinced me of their plans for VfL," Brooks told his new club's official website. "I want to contribute my share so that Wolfsburg live up to their earlier success."

Brooks made 90 Bundesliga appearances for Hertha, who reportedly turned down a €10m bid from Premier League club Watford for the 24-year-old last summer.

Last season, however, his performances attracted some criticism, with local paper Berliner Zeitung naming him one of the "losers" of the campaign.

Hertha sporting director Michael Preetz said: "We don't like it that we have to let go of our homegrown talent but we have found a solution which is also for the good of Hertha BSC.

"We wish John all the best and want to thank him for his efforts in the jersey with the flag on the chest."

Most expensive reported transfers of U.S. players in Euros
Season From To
John Brooks 20m 17-18 Hertha Berlin Wolfsburg
Jozy Altidore 10m 13-14 AZ Alkmaar Sunderland
Clint Dempsey 7.5m 12-13 Fulham Tottenham
Michael Bradley 7.4m 13-14 Roma Toronto FC
Clint Dempsey 6.8m 13-14 Tottenham Seattle Sounders
Claudio Reyna 6.7m 01-02 Rangers Sunderland
Jozy Altidore 6.5m 08-09 N.Y. Red Bulls Villarreal
DeAndre Yedlin 5.9m 16-17 Tottenham        Newcastle
Matt Miazga 4.6m 15-16 N.Y. Red Bulls Chelsea
Tim Howard 4.2m 07-08 Man United Everton

Wolfsburg, having avoided relegation in the playoffs against Eintracht Braunschweig, are aiming to boost their defense for next season.

"We are delighted to have signed John Anthony Brooks," sporting director Rebbe said. "He is a highly talented and ambitious defender who will reinforce our defence. At 24, he is already very experienced."

Brooks has won 30 caps for the U.S. team and scored at the 2014 World Cup. He was a first-choice center-back under former head coach Jurgen Klinsmann and also started a World Cup qualifier in March under new boss Bruce Arena.

He's in the current squad that will face Venezuela in a friendly on Saturday, ahead of qualifiers against Trinidad and Tobago and Mexico.

Stephan Uersfeld is the Germany correspondent for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @uersfeld.

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