Milton Valenzuela is finally on his way to central Ohio.
The Argentinian left back signed with Columbus Crew SC on Thursday as a young designated player (DP). He joins the Black and Gold from Newell’s Old Boys in his native Argentina after that club accepted a sweetened bid for his services. Crew SC had been rebuffed multiple times previous to this most recent successful offer.
Per Andrew Erickson of the Columbus Dispatch, Valenzuela is joining the club on loan with an option to buy. They are also buying down center back Jonathan Mensah’s contract with targeted allocation money (TAM) to get him below the DP threshold. As a result, Valenzuela, fellow Argentinian Federico Higuain and winger Pedro Santos comprise the team’s three DPs.
Report: Milton Valenzuela Signs Young Designated Player Deal With Columbus Crew SC
According to a report from TyC Sports out of Argentina that Jason Foster posted on Twitter, Columbus is paying around $1 million for 70 percent of his rights. The 19-year-old certainly fills a position of need after Jukka Raitala departed via the expansion draft before eventually signing with the Montreal Impact.
A product of the Newell’s youth academy, Valenzuela made his club debut in early February 2016 at the age of 17. Since then, he has 13 appearances under his belt including seven starts during the 2017-18 Primera Division campaign. Per Opta, he’s currently averaging 1.1 successful dribbles per 90 which leads all Newell’s defenders. He also ranks fifth on the team with 11 total aerials won.
Valenzuela boasts youth national team experience with Argentina. It includes 10 appearances for the Albiceleste’s U-20 squad, two of which were starts during the 2017 FIFA World Cup at that level. He went the full 90 minutes in both contests against England and South Korea.
Youth Continues To Be Served
The acquisition of Valenzuela is just the latest infusion of young talent this off-season on the part of Gregg Berhalter. Columbus also signed 21-year-old attacking midfielder Eduardo Sosa earlier in the month. It speaks to a growing trend in MLS as a whole towards bringing in younger talent via the transfer market. Atlanta United signing Ezequiel Barco served as perhaps the biggest example.
The influx of TAM is playing a noticeable impact. The recent trade that sent Ola Kamara to the LA Galaxy in exchange for Gyasi Zardes also contained with it $400,000 of such funds. It seems certain that those assets put Columbus over the top in terms of their ability to finalize Valenzuela’s signing. And in so doing, it gives Crew SC a dynamic young fullback who’s ideally a crucial piece within the framework of the club’s tactical identity under Berhalter.