TRANSFER TRACKER: Reports
UPDATE (7 pm ET, 12/18): The Columbus Dispatch's Jacob Myers is now also reporting that Zelarayan has signed with the Crew, and shared more details of the deal. According to the latest report, Zelarayan is on a three-year contract as a Designated Player with an option for a fourth year and will be with the team when training camp begins in January.
Myers also notes the reported fee of "more than $7 million," similar to the figure in earlier reports, awould more than triple the previous club record of $2 million-plus paid for Pedro Santos in 2017.
A Liga MX star could be the Columbus Crew's next No. 10, with Lucas Zelarayan linked for a club-record fee that approaches $8 million, according to a report from Columbus-based reporter Patrick Murphy. News of the reported move originally surfaced in Mexican outlet MedioTempo.
Zelarayan, who's from Argentina, currently features for powerhouse side Tigres UANL, where he has recorded 23 goals and 14 assists across 139 appearances. Zelarayan’s career began with Club Atletico Belgrano in his home country.
Some #Crew96 updates: I’m hearing that defender Vito Wormgoor, as @GuldanMR said, is done and will be announced soon. From my understanding, attacking midfielder Lucas Zelarayan is also just a matter of time. I was told around an $8 million transfer fee, which would be a record. https://t.co/cZaiFQSawH— Patrick Murphy (@_Pat_Murphy) December 18, 2019
The 27-year-old playmaker would fill an immediate need for the Crew, especially after the departure of club legend Federico Higuain. The Argentine missed most of the 2019 season with a long-term knee injury, often prompting Pedro Santos to play centrally.
The Crew will be entering their second season under the leadership of head coach Caleb Porter and president/general manager Tim Bezbatchenko. They’ve already brought in Darlington Nagbe via trade this offseason, and added Youness Mokhtar and Luis Diaz last summer. They’re set to contribute to a midfield that includes US men’s national teamer Wil Trapp and Artur in deep-lying positions, as well as Santos.
Should Zelarayan be acquired for the reported fee, he’d give Columbus a creative player to relieve some attacking burden off of Santos and striker Gyasi Zardes. It’d also be a marquee signing to build momentum toward the club’s new downtown stadium, which is set to open for the 2021 season.
Columbus are coming off a 10th-place finish in the Eastern Conference and missed the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2016.