Lucas Melano departs Portland Timbers on year-long loan to Belgrano

Lucas Melano shooting - Portland Timbers - July 10, 2016

After considerable speculation, Lucas Melano is on his way back to Argentina.

The winger, who spent a season and a half with the Portland Timbers, helping them win the 2015 MLS Cup, has been sent on loan to Argentine side Club Atletico Belgrano for the remainder of 2017, according to a release from the Timbers.

The 23-year-old made 44 MLS regular season appearances for Portland, scoring four goals and eight assists, in addition to six playoff appearances, including a vital goal to win the Western Conference Championship in 2015.

“In loaning Lucas to Belgrano, we are looking to place him in a situation that can help him succeed,” Gavin Wilkinson, general manager and president of soccer for the Timbers, said in a statement released by the club. “There is always a transitional risk with any foreign player, and that is magnified with young players. The 2016 season was difficult for Lucas; however, we believe he is a talented player, and he was a crucial contributor to the Timbers winning MLS Cup in 2015. We expect him to regain his form at his home team in Belgrano, and we wish him all the best.”

Melano returns to Belgrano, the club where he played as a youth and got his professional break in 2012.

While Melano was a Designated Player, Timbers owner Merritt Paulson was reported on Monday as confirming that Fanendo Adi will occupy a DP slot for the Timbers in 2017. He will join Diego Valeri as a Timbers Designated Player, leaving one spot open after Liam Ridgewell signed a deal that used Targeted Allocation Money for the 2017 season.