TRANSFER TRACKER STATUS: Transfer
The Portland Timbers have transferred midfielder Diego Valeri to Club Atlético Lanús, it was announced Thursday. The Argentine Primera División side is the 35-year-old's boyhood club, with the move ending a nine-year run for the MLS legend.
In conjunction with Valeri’s transfer, Portland will play Lanús in a friendly testimonial match at Providence Park in 2023 where the midfielder will play one half for each team. After Valeri retires, he will become an ambassador for the Timbers.
“I do not believe there has been a more impactful Designated Player signing in the history of MLS than Diego Valeri,” Timbers owner and CEO Merritt Paulson said in a release. “He changed what clubs looked for in a DP – not a brand to put fans in the seats and sell sponsorships, but a rising European-level talent who chose to make America his home and legacy.
“In Portland, he has meant everything to us on the pitch and in the community. While one chapter ends today, this is not the end of Diego Valeri in Portland, and I cannot wait for fans to have the opportunity to properly honor him in person. Thank you, Diego. For everything.”
Iconic MLS players: Diego Valeri with Portland Timbers
Valeri originally joined Portland in 2013 from Lanús and has become the Timbers’ regular-season leader in goals scored (86) and assists (91), plus ranks second in team history in games played (262) and starts (230).
A five-time MLS All-Star honoree, Valeri was named the Landon Donovan MLS MVP in 2017 and earned three MLS Best XI recognitions (2013, 2014, 2017). He was named MLS Newcomer of the Year in 2013.
“I’d like to start by saying a resounding thank you to Diego, Florencia and their remarkable daughter, Connie, who have been an integral part of the club for the last nine seasons,” Timbers GM and president of soccer Gavin Wilkinson said in a release. “I can confidently say that there will never be another like Diego Valeri in green and gold. On the field, his performances helped change the trajectory of this club. Off of it, the humility and generosity he and his family showed the community has left a lasting impression on the entire city of Portland.
" ... Knowing that our #8 will play one more game in the City of Roses, a place he called home for over nine years, is something that we viewed as vital to honor Diego and the mark he has left on the Portland Timbers family," Wilkinson continued. "We look forward to giving our fans the opportunity to see him take the field at Providence Park one last time. Diego Valeri is synonymous with Portland soccer. We thank Diego for his numerous contributions over the years as well as his tireless commitment to the club and know that he will be successful in all of his future endeavors – no matter where they take him.”
With Valeri, Portland won MLS Cup 2015 and made two other Audi MLS Cup Playoff finals (in 2018 and 2021). They also won the MLS is Back Tournament title in 2020.
In 2020, Valeri became the third player in MLS history to record 80 goals and 80 assists in their regular-season career. He recorded seven or more assists in each of his first eight seasons with the Timbers, joining Brad Davis, Preki and Marco Etcheverry as the only players in MLS history to record seven or more assists in eight consecutive seasons.
“There are no words to describe what Diego Valeri represents to the Portland Timbers and MLS,” Timbers head coach Giovanni Savarese said in a release. “He gave being a Designated Player a new meaning, setting the highest of standards in the league. There aren’t many players that can be recognized for having the impact and consistency that Diego had with the Timbers. With his mastery of the ball, ‘El Maestro’ bestowed with his game and competitive nature what Portland needed to always be one of the most competitive teams in the league.
"It will be a strange feeling to not see him in our locker room," Savarese continued. "My wish as a head coach was to see him retire with the Timbers, but sometimes soccer works out in different ways. I wish Diego all the best in his return to Lanús, the club that saw him grow, and to his beautiful family, Florencia and Connie, in their return to Argentina. His humility and his soccer will always be synonymous to the Portland Timbers.”
Valeri was named to Major League Soccer’s The 25 Greatest pres. by AT&T project, a group honoring the 25 brightest stars in league history.
With Valeri's departure, Portland's longest-tenured player remains defensive midfielder Diego Chara. The club is also in discussions to bring back midfielder Sebastian Blanco after an MLS Cup 2021 defeat to NYCFC.