Last offseason, Minnesota United sent $900,000 in Targeted Allocation Money, and another $100,000 in incentives, to Sporting Kansas City to lure Ike Opara north. It set the league record for most TAM sent in a trade for a defender.
Fast forward a season, the price almost looks like a bargain. The Defender of the Year candidate has led a defensive culture change in Minny and the Loons will be hosting an Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoff game.
A few months after the Opara deal, though, there was an under-the-radar move made by the Colorado Rapids, when they acquired center back Lalas Abubakar on loan from Columbus Crew SC. Crucially, there wasn't a pre-set option to buy.
Abubakar's debut has coincided with a sharp uptick in form for the Rapids as the center back has earned plaudits for his play. The Rapids have conceded 1.5 goals per game when he has started this season and 2.4 when he has not.
Now, with his loan set to expire at the end of the season, how much would it cost the Rapids to get him from the Crew? Would it set a new record for an MLS defender?
Matt Doyle, Bobby Warshaw and Andrew Wiebe think it might.
"If I'm Columbus, I'm asking for seven figures. If I'm Colorado, I'm paying that," Doyle said. "He's a proven, entering-his-prime, center back in this league. You know he fits."
Abubakar is 24, while Opara turned 30 by the time of his trade.
The Rapids defender has made 21 appearances for his new club this season, in which the club are 10-7-4. That breaks down to a 1.6 PPG, which would be right around MNUFC and Seattle Sounders, who both sit at 1.61.
Will Abubakar crack this list this offseason?
Notable defenders traded since 2017
|Player||Total Allocation (Incentives)||Season||Age*|
|Ike Opara||$900k + ($100k)||2019||30|
|Kendall Waston||$750k + ($75k)||2019||31|
|Tim Parker||$500k + Felipe||2018||25|
|Walker Zimmerman||$500k + No. 1 Allocation Spot||2018||24|
|Nick Hagglund||$300k + No. 1 Allocation Spot||2019||26|
|Keegan Rosenberry||$300k + ($100k)||2019||25|
*Age at beginning of season traded