UPDATE, JUNE 17: LAFC have announced the signing of Honduras international Andy Najar, as previously reported by MLSsoccer.com last week. The club acquired the top spot in the Allocation Order from Nashville SC in February for $350,000 in General Allocation Money. LAFC now drop to the bottom of the order, with Inter Miami occupying the top slot.
“Andy is a player that we have been monitoring for some time and we are delighted to officially welcome him to the Club,” LAFC EVP & GM John Thorrington said in a club statement. “His resume, both in MLS and in Europe, speaks for itself and we’re confident that his experience and versatility will only complement the group as we begin our return to play.”
Najar's talent is obvious, as he was a regular in both the Champions League and Europa League with RSC Anderlecht and is still just 27 years old, but endured a few injury-plagued seasons recently. He has made double-digit league appearances just once in a season since 2015-16 (25 in 2018-19), and last played a competitive match on May 16, 2019.
The deal makes sense for both parties. Najar's contract has a low guaranteed base but includes performance incentives that could raise his total salary, per a source. His attacking nature makes him a perfect fit as an attacking right back for LAFC, especially after the reigning Supporters' Shield winners let Steven Beitashour, their starting right back for much of 2019, leave as a free agent at the end of the season.
Over their first two MLS games, third-year pro Tristan Blackmon played the position, though ultimately may project as a center back long-term, particularly after the club traded Walker Zimmerman to Nashville. The uber-versatile Latif Blessing can also cover at right back if need be, but proved to be an integral part of LAFC's midfield last year.
First and foremost for Najar, it's about moving past injuries and re-capturing the form that earned him MLS Rookie of the Year — and a move to Anderlecht — nearly a decade ago.
ORIGINAL, JUNE 11: LAFC have signed Honduras international Andy Najar, sources tell MLSsoccer.com. The club plans to have him available for the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando next month.
Diario Diez first reported that Najar had signed with LAFC.
Najar, 27, broke through with D.C. United in 2010 when he won MLS Rookie of the Year after becoming United's second-ever Homegrown signing. He had 10 goals and 11 assists in 82 regular season appearances for the club before moving to RSC Anderlecht in 2013. D.C. United didn’t retain the Homegrown Player’s MLS rights due to the size of his transfer fee.
A Honduras international, Najar has four goals in 36 appearances since his national team debut in 2011.
“I already signed the contract, but we are waiting for the last letter from Anderlecht that shows I am free at the end of this month,” Najar told Diez.
In February, LAFC general manager John Thorrington said Najar was training with the club in a bid to regain fitness. He last featured for Anderlecht in May 2019. A month later Najar suffered a knee injury a month later for Honduras in an international friendly ahead of the 2019 Gold Cup.
“There are numerous things that would need to happen before we would even be in a place to talk about [signing Najar],” Thorrington told ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle on Feb. 11.
LAFC, who broke the league's single-season points record en route to winning the Supporters Shield in 2019, have added to their squad this year by signing former PSV keeper Kenneth Vermeer, a pair of U-20 World Cup standouts Jose Cifuentes and Francisco Ginella and more before Najar. They had a win and a draw in their first two matches of the season before play was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.