Nashville SC

REPORT: Nashville SC trades Alistair Johnston to CF Montreal

I think house style is that Sam does “rumors” while Paul Tenorio does “reports” but nevertheless…

A blockbuster trade for Nashville SC is on the way. Sam’s rumoring doesn’t require my confirmation, but sources indicate he’s accurate here:

Nashville SC drafted Johnston out of Wake Forest in the club’s inaugural SuperDraft, trading up to the No. 11 pick to grab him. He emerged as a starter for the club after the coronavirus pause in 2020, and has been a locked-in member of the lineup ever since (when healthy and not away on international duty). His time in MLS has also seen him rise to the level of regular for the Canadian Men’s National Team, as well.

$1 million in General Allocation Money (sources indicate that it’s slightly more than that – though the sell-on fee may be considered the difference there) is a lot. Walker Zimmerman was acquired for $1.1 million in GAM ($150k of it conditional on performance incentives, which he surely met) from LAFC before the 2020 season, and he’s gone on to win back-to-back league Defensive Player of the Year awards. While prices for intra-MLS player trades have risen in the past two offseasons, there’s still little doubt that Nashville will feel like it’s making a “Moneyball” play – unloading an asset that someone is willing to pay more for than it’s worth.

From Johnston’s perspective, he gets to return to his home country (and CFMTL acquires a Canadian, which may explain a little bit of the price premium), and become a crucial building block for a defense that was good-not-great in Wilfried Nancy’s first season in charge.

This is yet another big move for a club that has already made a few, dealing international slots for a league-record GAM haul, and now unloading a second player for even more General Allocation Money (Dylan Nealis went for $125-200k, depending on performance incentives). Heading the other direction, Nashville has spent small amounts to pick up attacking pieces Teal Bunbury and Ethan Zubak.

For more on offseason philosophy, take a listen to our recent podcast with Nashville SC General Manager Mike Jacobs.

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