The Portland Timbers' offseason shuffle just keeps on getting better.
The club announced Thursday that is has acquired Argentine midfielder Diego Valeri as a Designated Player, and he will join Portland on loan from Argentine first-division side Club Atlético Lanús. He will be added to the Timbers’ roster pending the receipt of his P-1 visa and International Transfer Certificate (ITC), and will occupy an international slot on the Timbers roster. Per league and club policy, terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Valeri, 26, has played nine seasons with Lanús (2003-09; 2011-12), featuring in 158 matches and recording 25 goals in Argentina’s Primera División, and recently served as the club’s captain. He helped Lanús to their first Primera División title in 2007. Additionally, he spent one season with FC Porto of Portugal in 2009-10 and also had a loan spell with Spain’s UD Almería during the 2010-11 La Liga campaign. Valeri has three caps with the Argentine national team.
“Valeri is a tremendous acquisition and his desire to join the Portland Timbers was an integral part in getting him on loan,” Timbers general manager Gavin Wilkinson said in a statement. “At his age and with his ability, we expect to be in a position to purchase this player and make him a permanent fixture in Portland.”
Valeri joins striker Kris Boyd and midfielder Diego Chará as the three Designated Players on the Timbers' roster, while José Adolfo Valencia was also signed as a young Designated Player last year. Valencia will not count as a DP in 2013.
Timbers head coach Caleb Porter, who was officially introduced to the media earlier this week, praised the move to add Valeri to the fold.
"Diego Valeri is certainly a tremendous addition to the Timbers and will bring quality and creativity to our attack,” Porter said in a statement. “We expect he will be one of the better playmakers in the league, but more importantly Diego fits our identity and his play should boost production to help the club win games."
Since returning to Lanús from Almería in 2011, Valeri tallied 13 goals in 62 league games over the last three Primera División seasons and led the club to a second-place finish in the 2011-12 Clausura tournament. He also played in eight games and scored a goal during the 2012 Copa Libertadores, helping the club reach the Round of 16 – its best finish in the tournament.
A native of Lanús, Argentina, Valeri made his debut with the Argentine national team on March 16, 2011, in a 4-1 win over Venezuela, and appeared in two other friendlies for Argentina in 2011.
“I am very happy and this, for me, is a beautiful opportunity,” Valeri said. “I always wanted to play in MLS. I’m grateful that the Portland Timbers have given me this chance.”
Coming up through the development system of Lanús, Valeri made his professional debut with his hometown club at the age of 18 on Sept. 27, 2003. He had a breakout 2007-08 season, recording eight goals in 26 matches as Lanús finished the Apertura tournament in first place with a record of 11-3-5 (38 points).
With FC Porto during the 2009-10 season, Valeri appeared in 12 Portuguese La Liga matches, contributing to a third-place finish in the league standings. He also played in two 2009-10 UEFA Champions League fixtures as Porto reached the tournament’s Round of 16. Valeri played nine matches in Spain’s top flight with Almería while on loan during the 2010-11 season.
Valeri has competed in prestigious South American club tournaments the Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana a combined five times. Twice Valeri has helped Lanús reach the Round of 16 in the Copa Libertadores (2008, 2012) and aided in a quarterfinal appearance in the 2006 Copa Sudamericana.
Valeri is the seventh player the Timbers have added this offseason on the heels of a disappointing second season in MLS, when they finished eighth in the Western Conference and missed the postseason by nine points.