Official: Hany Mukhtar signs with Nashville SC

After several outlets (including this one) independently confirmed it yesterday, Nashville SC has made its next MLS signing official. Former German Youth International Hany Mukhtar is the first Designated Player signing in club history. See the entire Nashville SC MLS roster to date here.

From club release:

NASHVILLE (Aug. 27, 2019) – Nashville Soccer Club announced today it has signed Germany youth international Hany Mukhtar as the club’s first designated player in Major League Soccer, pending receipt of his International Transfer Certificate (ITC) and P-1 Visa. Nashville SC acquired Mukhtar’s rights from the Seattle Sounders in exchange for $100,000 in General Allocation Money. The 24-year-old attacking midfielder will remain with Danish Superliga club Brøndby IF through January 2020.

“Our plan for putting our roster together is about finding the 11 players who perform the best together,” said Nashville SC General Manager Mike Jacobs. “Adding a creative playmaker like Hany [Mukhtar] is a huge coup. His ability to create and finish scoring chances offers our club a versatile attacking weapon who will fit naturally within the group we are putting together.”

“I’m really excited to be a part of Nashville SC and to help build something!” said Mukhtar. “I’m coming to MLS to win and I can’t wait to get started with my new teammates. All together we will achieve big things!”=

A dynamic playmaking midfielder, Mukhtar’s versatility allows him to play centrally and wide. In his three years with Brøndby IF, the playmaker has scored 26 goals and assisted in 34 more, becoming a clinical piece in the club securing its participation in Europa League competition every season while also conquering the Danish Cup in 2018. He was also named the SuperLiga Player of the Year following the 2017/18 season.

Rising through the youth system of Bundesliga club Hertha BSC, Mukhtar made his top tier debut at age 18 against Bayern Munich in 2013. After Hertha he went on to play with Portuguese powerhouse Benfica, winning Liga NOS in 2015, and Red Bull Salzburg on loan where he continued adding accolades by conquering the league and Austrian Cup trophies just a year later.

With 20 goals in 48 caps for Germany’s Youth National Team, the insatiable playmaker was the key to Germany’s UEFA European Under-19 Championship in 2014 with his goal in the 39th minute of the match against Portugal. Mukhtar scored a total of five goals during that tournament and added four more to his personal record a year later during the 2015 Under-20 FIFA World Cup.

Signed as the first Designated Player in the history of Nashville SC, come January 2020, Mukhtar will join recently announced signing from Panama Aníbal Godoy, Ghanaian international David Accam, U.S. Men’s Youth international Derrick Jones, English forward Cameron Lancaster and Mexican youth international forward Daniel Ríos.

Here’s what I wrote about Mukhtar yesterday, with a focus on breaking down what sort of player he is:

Mukhtar is an active and athletic central midfielder whose priority first and foremost is going forward. He’s able to dribble or pass from deep positions on midfield, or can make runs into the teeth of the defense to receive line-breaking passes. He always has priority one to be “how can I make the current gamestate into one where we’re aggressively attacking the defense,” which is what you want out of the No. 10 position. Very frequently, his first touch is a hopeful-seeming – but ultimately very accurate – dish to a winger well upfield to spark a fast break. Even if he first traps the ball, he hits it upfield without settling.

He doesn’t have a rocket leg (he shows potential to hit it hard, but is much more a placement type of shooter, with the ability to bend it to make for a tough save out of the opposing keeper), but is willing to hit from distance if he thinks the keeper’s out, which is another demonstration of that forward-thinking mentality. So too is his ability and desire to fire on a pressing trigger quickly, creating turnovers and unsettled offense for his team.

His first touch receiving the ball in traffic is just OK. A couple times (even on his highlight reel), he inadvertently pops the ball up into his body and has to settle it with another touch before he really controls it. However, once he does have a hold of it, his technical ability to dribble around and between defenders is extremely impressive. He can control the ball with his legs extended away from his body, allowing him to pull it back closer in traffic and execute some more elaborate fakes.

He has good vision in and around the box both with and without the ball. In the latter, he shows a little bit of right-place, right-time instinct to run onto loose balls or layoffs in the box (which will be a good fit playing underneath Daniel Ríos next season). All told… he’s not David Villa or something, but this is a DP-worthy attacking midfielder or second striker, to me.

Much more to come on Mukhtar in the coming days.

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