TRANSFER TRACKER STATUS: Report
The Luciano Acosta transfer saga was one of the big stories in MLS at the start of the year, and it's expected to be a conversation once again in summer with the D.C. United midfielder nearing a period in which he could be courted by overseas clubs with his contract expiring at year's end.
But a report from ESPN’s Sebastian Salazar before D.C.'s 2-0 loss at home to New York City FC, suggests a solution could come sooner rather than later. Salazar said the Eastern Conference club has made a contract offer to Acosta, hoping to secure the playmaker long-term. D.C. declined to comment publicly on contract discussions.
Acosta has had no shortage of interest abroad with Manchester United reported to have scouted the Argentine in recent weeks. Last winter, Paris St. Germain was the supposed destination, while Turkey’s Fenerbahce entered the conversation as well.
"First of all, the European interest in Lucho is still very real," Salazar said on the broadcast. "Both Manchester United and Lyon have sent representatives here to the nation’s capital to watch Lucho live in the last month. Also, a source close to the situation says PSG is still very much interested. Lucho told me this week he feels ready, not just for the jump to Europe in the abstract, but specifically to compete for minutes at a big club.
"From the club perspective, the D.C. United perspective, they have tabled what they consider a very competitive offer and have had what they call very positive discussions with Lucho’s agents in just the last two weeks," Salazar continued. "They are hopeful to sign him, but time is working against them."
Speaking with ESPN’s Taylor Twellman during their Heineken Boot Room segment, D.C. head coach Ben Olsen was diplomatic about the process.
“He’s a big part of what we’re doing here,” Olsen said. “If he does go, we’ll have to replace him with a very talented player. We have some players internally that we can help fill that void, but he’s not a player you just snap your fingers and replace. That stuff will happen over the next month or two. In the meantime, he’s had a very good mentality about how he goes about his job. He’s been professional, our relationship is solid. He likes this team, it’s a family to him. He's been an absolute pro about it.”
Acosta, originally acquired on loan from Boca Juniors in 2016, enjoyed a breakout campaign last year, especially when Wayne Rooney arrived in the summer. He finished 2018 with 10 goals and 17 assists, though he has just two goals and two assists in the early going of the current MLS campaign.
“We prefer to have him, but this is the sport of soccer,” Olsen said. “People move on, players move on and there are a lot of players out in the world who are impactful players coming to this league year in and year out. Every transfer window there’s now players coming in that help. But I love the kid. I love what he does on the field. He’s fun to watch, our fans love him. We’ll do our best to keep him."