Portland Timbers sign Nigerian national team center back Gbenga Arokoyo

With the summer transfer window set to close on Wednesday, the Portland Timbers signed their second defender in as many days, announcing on Tuesday the acquisition of 23-year-old Nigerian national team center back Gbenga Arokoyo.

The Timbers traded for the Discovery priority to sign the defender, sending Targeted Allocation Money and a conditional 2017 third-round SuperDraft pick to NYCFC in exchange.

Arokoyo last played for Turkish Super Lig club Gaziantepspor, appearing in 35 league games in two seasons with the club before leaving the team in June due to a reported financial dispute. Arokoyo told Goal.com in early July that he hadn’t been paid in his final six months with Gaziantepspor.

“Gbenga is a young, athletic defender who we believe will be a strong asset to our back line as he continues to develop within our club,” Timbers GM Gavin Wilkinson said in a statement released by the club.

He’s the second center back to sign with Portland this week after the Timbers announced on Monday that they’d acquired English Premier League veteran Steven Taylor. Portland lost starting center back Nat Borchers for the season after the 35-year-old ruptured his left Achilles tendon on July 23.

Arokoyo spent two-and-a-half years with Swedish club Mjallby before moving to Turkey. He appeared in 48 games in Sweden’s top flight before leaving Mjallby halfway through the 2014 Allsvenskan season.

A member of the Nigerian team that won the 2011 Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations, Arokoyo made his full international debut on May 27, when he came on as a substitute in a friendly against Mali. He was used as a sub once again in the Super Eagles’ friendly against Luxembourg on May 31.

He’s the second Nigerian international on the Timbers, joining Designated Player forward and club leading scorer Fanendo Adi in Portland. 

"Gbenga is a talented young player with an athletic profile and he has a big upside for the future,” added Timbers head coach Caleb Porter.

The Timbers made another move at center back on Tuesday, waiving Anthony Manning. The former Billiken did not make a MLS appearance with the club since being selected 52nd overall in the 2015 SuperDraft.

Portland Timbers
ROSTERED PLAYERS (27 of 28 spots filled*):

GK (3): Jake Gleeson, Wade Hamilton, Chris Konopka
DEF (10): Vytautas Andriuskevicius (INT'L), Gbenga Arokoyo (INT'L), Chris Klute, Taylor Peay, Alvas Powell, Liam Ridgewell (DP, INT'L), Jermaine Taylor, Steven Taylor (INT'L), Andy Thoma, Zarek Valentin
MID (9): Jack Barmby (INT'L), Nick Besler, Diego Chara, Ned Grabavoy, Jack Jewsbury, Darlington Nagbe, Amobi Okugo, Diego Valeri (DP), Ben Zemanski
FWD (6): Fanendo Adi (INT'L), Neco Brett (INT'L), Darren Mattocks, Jack McInerney, Lucas Melano (DP, INT'L), Ben Polk

DESIGNATED PLAYERS (DP): 3
HOMEGROWN PLAYERS (HG): 0
INT'L ROSTER SPOTS FILLED (INT'L): 7
GENERATION ADIDAS PLAYERS (GA): 0
ON LOAN: Dairon Asprilla
*SEASON-ENDING INJURY LIST: Nat Borchers

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