At long last, it’s official. Nashville SC Designated Player Aké Loba is off to Mazatlán FC. From Club release:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Jan. 6, 2023) – Nashville Soccer Club announced today the team has loaned forward Aké Loba to Liga MX side Mazatlán F.C. with an option to purchase the forward before the conclusion of the year.
Loba appeared in 43 matches and scored three goals across two seasons in all competitions including Major League Soccer and the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
Transaction: Nashville SC loans Aké Loba to Liga MX side Mazatlán F.C.Nashville SC release
I broke down some of the implications of this earlier. The financial terms of his departure and the impacts they have on Nashville SC’s roster build rest upon how much of his salary Mazatlán is taking on. The fact that it’s a loan with option to purchase leads me to believe that Mazatlán is essentially taking him on loan with intention to purchase, but it plays out as basically a free transfer with the Mexican club taking on nearly all of his salary.
Either way, Nashville gets its Designated Player slot back as long as Mazatlán takes on enough salary to get Nashville’s budget hit below the DP threshold (UPDATE: I’m told this is not the case, and thanks to his initial transfer fee, he’s going to stick on NSC’s books as a DP unless and until a full transfer is executed), and it’s all-but certain that he won’t play for NSC again under his current contract. The move also opens an international slot, leaving Laurence Wyke as (likely) the only player on the roster who requires one at this stage.
Here’s what I wrote last time around:
NSC gets some cash back, minimizing their losses on a stint in Music City that didn’t work out (they cannot convert any of that transfer fee to GAM unless it’s a greater number than they bought him for, which seems extremely unlikely after he spent 16 months reducing his value). If it’s a loan, Nashville SC gets its international slot back and its Designated Player slot back for the duration of the loan – which would likely be until the Summer window or possibly for the entire 2023 season (at which time he would no longer be under contract with Nashville). NSC would also get some budget relief equal to the amount that Mazatlán agrees to pay him – which would almost certainly not be his entire salary of $1.5 million, but John Ingram would save a bit of coin.Dec. 31
It’s a definite bummer that things didn’t work out for him here! It was a risk worth taking – frankly, didn’t look like that big of a risk at the time – and sometimes those are going to fail. Being able to cut the losses at this stage at least minimizes the impact that said failure has on the club, and largely limits it to the 2021 and 2022 seasons.