MLS Insider: Tom Bogert

How Minnesota United landed Ligue 1 defender Bakaye Dibassy and nearly lost him to DC United

Bakaye Dibassy - in a challenge - Ligue 1

Minnesota United FC's acquisition of French defender Bakaye Dibassy was the culmination of long-term scouting, availability, negotiation through a global pandemic and a little bit of good timing.

The 30-year-old Dibassy, who is adept at either center back or left back, was officially acquired by the Loons from Ligue 1's Amiens SC on Monday. He joined Amiens in 2016 and amassed 134 appearances with the club, including 22 this season before the league was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Dibassy had been on the club's radar for a few years, as the experienced defender fit the profile Minnesota were looking for in 

“We’ve been tracking him for the better part of two years now," technical director Mark Watson told "What really stood out to us, is his versatility. He can play two positions really well. That was really attractive to us. He’s got all the qualities we look for in a defender: Athletic, good experience and very technical.”

Dibassy's versatility gives head coach Adrian Heath plenty of options in defense. He and midfielder Hassani Dotson, who can also cover at either fullback position, mean the club are well situated to handle most combinations of injuries. They are already without reigning Defender of the Year Ike Opara at the MLS is Back Tournament and have advanced to the semifinals. 

Similar to how they acquired attacker Robin Lod, the Loons tracked Dibassy and patiently awaited their opportunity to sign him. The club watched copious amounts of game film on him and scouted him in person on multiple occasions. 

“To be honest, the deal never happened because of finances," Watson said. "He was at a club that wanted a significant transfer fee, but that changed. Then we had the luxury of watching the player for two years, we know him well.”

Watson declined to comment as to whether there was a transfer fee or not, but did reveal Dibassy signed a contract the 2022 season with a club option for 2023.

The club nearly lost out on signing Dibassy this winter. D.C. United reported came close to signing him just before MLS shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, something the club were well aware of. Minnesota held his discovery rights so the Loons had to permit United to negotiate.

“He’s been on our discovery list for a long time," Watson said. "D.C. were able to negotiate with him because we weren’t ready to pay the transfer fee, we were aware of that.”

The deal obviously never came to fruition. Situations changed in a post-pandemic world, as Ligue 1 ended their season early and determined through points per game that Amiens would be relegated to the second tier. Minnesota got their second chance and were able to get the deal over the line.

Dibassy now is awaiting his visa, which is being processed. When that is received he'll travel to Minnesota, start the government-mandated quarantine before being allowed to begin training with his new club.