UPDATE (JUNE 3) – Real Salt Lake have signed midfielder Diego Luna from USL Championship side El Paso Locomotive FC via permanent transfer, the club announced Thursday. Luna signed a contract through 2024 with club options for 2025 and 2026.
Sources say the transfer fee RSL paid El Paso was $250,000, which is a USL-to-MLS record. MLSsoccer.com first reported the transfer Wednesday.
RSL exchanged $50,000 in General Allocation Money with San Jose Earthquakes to obtain the homegrown priority rights to add Luna. The Earthquakes are also eligible to receive additional GAM based on various service and performance incentives. Luna spent time in the Quakes Academy before joining the Barca Residency Academy and then El Paso.
The 18-year-old US youth international had 13 goals and nine assists in 43 appearances with El Paso in the USL Championship over the last two years and was the current league leader in American Soccer Analysis' Goals Added (g+) advanced metric.
“Everyone at RSL welcomes the opportunity to further sharpen a young player such as Diego Luna on our senior roster, opening the doors of our homegrown development paradigm to a proven, albeit young, dual national No. 10 on the ascent in his professional career,” said Real Salt Lake technical director Kurt Schmid in a release.
“Luna has blossomed in the last 18 months at El Paso, and we are excited to get him integrated into our system, to learn from Pablo Mastroeni and his staff, while also watching him assert his skills at the upcoming Concacaf U-20 tourney this month.”
Luna, 18, has drawn worldwide attention from his play with Locomotive after joining the El Paso club at 17. He's featured extensively with the US youth national team program and is expected to represent the US in the Concacaf U-20 World Cup Qualifying tournament in Honduras later this month.
“I believe Real Salt Lake is a historic club with an amazing and vibrant fan base; I am grateful for the faith RSL has in me and my abilities, and I look forward to contributing to the team,” said Luna in a release. “After speaking with the front office about their strong interest and plan for me, I am convinced this was the right move for my career. I will forever be grateful to El Paso for giving me my first professional contract, and the opportunity to showcase myself as I face new challenges.”
ORIGINAL (June 1) – Real Salt Lake have acquired US youth international attacking midfielder Diego Luna from USL Championship side El Paso Locomotive, sources tell MLSsoccer.com.
Sources say El Paso will receive a $250,000 transfer fee for Luna, which is likely a record fee in a USL-to-MLS deal. Sources add that San Jose Earthquakes receive $50,000 General Allocation Money plus another $100,000 GAM in incentives, as well as a sell-on percentage, should Luna be transferred out of MLS in the future. Luna spent time in the Quakes academy and is from their homegrown territory.
Luna may occupy a U22 Initiative slot for RSL, though they can also add him to the roster without the U22 Initiative.
The deal will go through immediately, as Luna's International Transfer Certificate is already registered in the United States with El Paso. Therefore, RSL don't need to wait until the Secondary Transfer Window opens on July 7. RSL's next match is Saturday against Vancouver Whitecaps FC and Luna is expected to be eligible for selection.
Luna, 18, is highly-rated and already has 13 goals and nine assists in 43 appearances with El Paso in the USL Championship. He is the current league leader in American Soccer Analysis' Goals Added (g+) advanced metric.
A number of European teams hoped to sign Luna, but he opted for RSL given the club's development pipeline and their connections to European clubs for any future move, per sources. New owner David Blitzer is a shareholder in numerous clubs across Europe, including Augsburg in Germany, Crystal Palace in England and more.
A US youth international most recently with the U-20 side in March, Luna is also eligible for the Mexican national team. He spent time in the Barca Residency Academy before joining El Paso. Prior to that, he was in the Earthquakes Academy.
Luna could be RSL's first U22 Initiative signing this year, with up to two more spots open, pending what they do with their third Designated Player spot this summer.
Real Salt Lake have enjoyed a fast start this season despite weathering injuries and late-arriving offseason additions. They're third in the Western Conference table with 25 points after 14 matches (7W-3L-4D).