Transfer Tracker

Santiago Rodríguez returns to NYCFC as Designated Player

TRANSFER_Santi Rodriguez


Concerns about New York City FC’s chance creation in the post-Maxi Moralez era abated on Friday, as the club announced they’ve permanently acquired midfielder Santiago Rodríguez from Montevideo City Torque.

The 23-year-old has signed through the 2027 MLS season, returning to NYCFC after his 18-month loan from the Uruguay-based City Football Group sister side expired last December. Rodríguez will be a Designated Player and don the No. 10 shirt Moralez previously wore.

Rodríguez won't occupy an international roster slot and will be available for NYCFC's Matchday 2 fixture at Chicago Fire FC (Saturday, 8:30 pm ET | MLS Season Pass). 

"Bringing Santi back to the club was a priority for us and we are delighted that we have been able to finalize this deal," NYCFC sporting director David Lee said in a release. "We’re looking forward to welcoming him back into the group and supporting his development over the years ahead."

Rodríguez will slot into NYCFC’s playmaking role, a spot Moralez occupied from 2017-22 before a transfer agreement was reached in late December for the 36-year-old to return to Racing Club, his boyhood team in the Argentine Primera División.

Rodríguez was part of NYCFC’s MLS Cup 2021 and Campenoes Cup 2022 title-winning sides, playing both centrally and out wide. Across 32 games last season, he had four goals, 13 assists (sixth-most in MLS) and 61 key passes (14th-most in MLS).

Across the regular season and Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, Rodríguez tallied 8g/18a in 60 games for NYCFC during his previous stint. Late last season, he blossomed under head coach Nick Cushing and helped NYCFC reach the Eastern Conference Final before they fell to the Philadelphia Union.

"I am delighted to be coming back to New York City," Rodríguez said in a release. "It’s a city and a club that I have fallen in love with. We have had many successes the past couple seasons and I hope to continue to bring happiness and silverware to the club and our fans."

Rodríguez is likely to link up with Brazilian forwards Talles Magno, Thiago Andrade and Gabriel Pereira in attack. In midfield, he’ll likely play alongside Keaton Parks and James Sands, who's back from his loan to Scottish powerhouse Rangers FC. The Cityzens also reportedly held talks to bring once-capped US international Richie Ledezma on loan from Eredivisie side PSV Eindhoven.

NYCFC, who weathered some key departures this winter, have made the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs all but one year since debuting as an expansion club in 2015.