Six months away from playing their first MLS match, Nashville SC have acquired a centerpiece for their inaugural MLS roster.
On Tuesday, the club announced the acquisition of German attacking midfielder Hany Mukhtar from Brondby, with The Athletic reporting the move comes with a $3 million fee. The 24-year-old was once one of Germany's highly-touted prospects and has developed into a multi-faceted attacker in Denmark. Across three seasons with Brondby, Mukhtar has 27 goals and added 34 assists across league and cup competitions.
Now, he'll be the MLS expansion side's talisman in 2020.
“I had a great feeling when I was talking with the club," Mukhtar told MLSsoccer.com. "I had the feeling it was the right step for me in my life. I think we can grow together, that’s the nice thing. They want to build something great and I’m not finished in my career. I want to develop as well. It fits perfect.”
Mukhtar decided, despite a number of other options across Europe, that Nashville and MLS was best for the next stage of his career.
“The league is growing a lot," he said. "The quality of the game is getting better and better, [and] I think I can develop in this league. That’s why I chose to come to America. They said I’d be a key player; that’s important for a player to get the feeling to be important. Everybody in life wants to be important in their job. That’s great. I want to give them something back. I’ll give my best on the pitch for sure.”
It's not the first time MLS has been on his mind.
Ahead of the 2018 season, he mulled over a proposal from the Seattle Sounders, but ultimately decided to stay with Brondby. Circumstances weren't right for his move then, but a coaching change sparked things this go-around.
“The coach who brought me to Brondby, (Alexander Zorniger), he got sacked last year," Mukhtar explained. "That was a key point for my decision. We had a special relationship and he brought me to the club. The new coach is great as well, but it’s always different when a specific coach wanted you and brought you to the club. He really wanted me to stay at Brondby, plus I had the feeling it could be good if I stayed one more year. They really needed me, they sold some players. They decided I had to stay and I was fine with that situation.”
Mukhtar will remain with Brondby until January before joining Nashville, just as two other key signings – Anibal Godoy with the San Jose Earthquakes and David Accam with Columbus Crew SC – will remain elsewhere through the end of the season.
“I came as a youngster and I will leave as a leader," Mukhtar said of Brondby. "I’m one of the captains of the team. It’s great and makes me proud to leave a mark on the club.”
At Brondby, Mukhtar matured into a consistent professional. Now, what can Nashville fans expect from their DP?
“I’m more of a creative player who opens space for other players," Mukhtar said. "I try to make the players around me better, always between the lines and available for a pass. That’s my key point. The last year I’ve scored some nice goals and made great assists, but my main goal is to make the team stronger.”
Soon, he'll pull on the Nashville jersey ahead of their first MLS match.
“I’m really excited, I’ll give my best," Mukhtar said. "That’s all I can say. Hopefully we have a strong team and we’ll build something great in Nashville.”