NEW YORK – Speculation has swirled furiously around the future of D.C. United’s Andy Najar, the 17-year-old winger who has taken MLS by storm in 2010.
Will he represent the US or Honduras? Will he answer a call-up to the Honduran Under-20 National Team? Will he be trialing with a European club this winter? Are his days in MLS numbered?
Heady questions for a player who only started playing organized soccer three years ago when he arrived to the United States from Honduras. MLSsoccer.com spoke to Najar's agent, Chris Megaloudis of Long View Management, to get the answers.
First, soccer fans in the USA and Honduras hoping to see a final decision on Najar’s international status will have to wait until the Honduran native earns his high school degree in March. He has been meeting every week with a private tutor provided by his club.
“There have been inquiries already [from the Honduran National Team] and he’s politely said, ‘I’m going to finish my MLS season and my studies,’” Megaloudis said. “That’s where his priorities are: finishing school and helping D.C. United finish their season.”
The Najar decision will be an interesting one to watch. He was born in Honduras and is Honduran to the core, but he’s also appreciative of the opportunities the United States have provided him and his family. Although he has a green card, he is also still a ways away from earning his US citizenship.
The Honduran Under-20 coach says he will call up Najar for CONCACAF qualifying in an attempt to force him into a decision. But the DC academy product knows that playing for the Honduran squad could potentially rule him out from ever playing with the US despite the fact that he is still under the age of 21.
Najar’s case mirrors that of Everton playmaker Mikel Arteta, who was in the news in recent weeks after reports indicated he was leaning toward making a switch to play for Fabio Capello and England.
Arteta, who was born in Spain, represented that country’s youth national teams when he only held a single passport. It was ultimately determined he was not eligible to make a switch to England because he did not hold a British passport at the time he played for Spain’s youth sides. Najar also has just one passport at the current time.
However, US citizenship could be a realistic goal for Najar since Megaloudis says that his client doesn’t have plans to bolt for Europe just yet. Najar is in the first year of a four-year Generation Adidas contract, according to his representative.
“We see Andy in the league for quite a bit of time and he’s going to get better and better every single year,” Megaloudis said. “He’s done well and hopefully he can play a bigger role on [D.C. United] next year.”
Najar’s agent says the talk of a “trial” with Arsenal was blown out of proportion by the media. Spending time overseas during the offseason could come in the form of a training arrangement, which would need D.C. United's approval.
So while Najar’s play has captured the imagination of soccer fans around the US, his story is still just starting to be written.
“He’s not in any rush and is very realistic of his own development and where’s he’s at,” Megaloudis said. “He wants to become a more consistent player. Europe is going to be there for him. The national team [international play] is going to be there for him.”