TRANSFER TRACKER STATUS: Signing
UPDATE (Feb. 19) – Minnesota United FC have signed forward Luis Amarilla from Argentine Primera División side Vélez Sarsfield through the 2023 MLS season with options for 2024-25, the club announced Saturday.
The Paraguayan will be a Designated Player in Minnesota, rejoining the club he previously spent 2020 at while battling an ankle injury.
“We’re delighted to welcome him back. He still owes us 23 goals, as he promised us 25 when he arrived here in 2020,” head coach Adrian Heath said in a release. “We felt then he would be a consistent goal scorer in the league and we feel the same again. He’s had another really productive year [in Quito] and we felt, when the opportunity came, it was too good to turn down.
“There is a sense of unfinished business and he’s expressed a real desire to come back. With Luis, there is some familiarity that you don’t always get with international players. We know him and we know what type of character we’re getting on and off the field. Competition for places will be fierce, but we feel as though he’ll be a big plus for us this year.”
Amarilla, 26, has been capped four times by Paraguay’s national team. He had two goals and one assist across seven regular-season matches (five starts) while on loan with the Loons.
Amarilla arrives back in MLS after a 15-goal season on loan at Quito, where he helped the Ecuadorian Liga PRO side win the league championship.
“It’s a return that I wanted. I wanted to come back. I wanted to return. Even more so, it’s a city that I think is fantastic,” Amarilla said in a release. “I’m very happy and with all the desire to get going and play. For me,  was not the season that I wanted, because of my injury. But today, I’m here with the hope and ambition to do things the right way, do things differently. Hopefully, it’s a great year.”
As first reported by radio show Sábado Vélez and later confirmed by Cesar Luis Merlo, the 26-year-old forward is poised to join the Loons for the 2022 MLS season, pending final details.
Amarilla would arrive from Argentine Primera Division side Vélez Sarsfield after spending the 2021 campaign on loan at Ecuadorian powerhouse side LDU Quito.
The Paraguayan striker spent 2020 on loan at Minnesota, though was limited to two goals and one assist across seven matches (five starts). Ahead of the pandemic-altered year, Amarilla memorably vowed to score 25 goals with the Loons.
Should Amarilla indeed join Minnesota, he’d give them another striker alongside Adrien Hunou, a Designated Player signed from Ligue 1’s Stade Rennais a season ago. MNUFC also acquired U22 Initiative forward Bongokuhle Hlongwane this offseason, with the 21-year-old joining from South African Premier Division side Maritzburg United.
In early January, Andy Greder of The Pioneer Press reported that Minnesota were working to bring Amarilla back on a permanent deal.