19-year-old is MLS' first homegrown player sold to Europe
Andy Najar became Major League Soccer's first homegrown player to transfer abroad. D.C. United and MLS finalized an agreement to sell the Honduran teenager, who has risen from the ranks of United's youth academy, to Belgian league champion RSC Anderlecht.
Najar, 19, trained with Anderlecht in December and returned to the club for a loan spell for the month of January. The Belgians had two transfer offers rejected before both clubs agreed to some final tweaks Tuesday.
The transfer fee isn't clear but is expected to be somewhat less than FC Dallas midfielder Brek Shea's $4 million move to Stoke City in the larger and richer English Premier League. D.C. United stands to claim three-fourths of the windfall and possibly a share of any future transfer, while the remainder goes to MLS, which owns all of its players' contracts. Najar earned a base salary of $150,000 last season.
Born in Honduras, Najar came to the United States at age 13 and originally was discovered at Edison High School in Alexandria before joining United's youth academy. After excelling for the under-16 and under-18 teams, he signed a first-team contract in March 2010 at the age of 17 and went on to be MLS rookie of the year, a bright spot for a last-place club, finishing with a team-high five goals and one assist. He had 10 goals and 11 assists in 82 matches (72 starts) over three seasons.
Last year Najar helped the under-23 Honduran national team qualify for the Olympics and then represented his country in London, but his 2012 season with United was a challenging one. He was forced to play his way back into the starting lineup after returning from Olympic qualification and later made a shift to the right side of United's back line.
Had he returned to United for the 2013 season, Najar was expected to play right back. He has played on the wing for Anderlecht, which has 31 league titles since 1947 and regularly plays in the UEFA Champions League. It has been the home club for U.S. midfielder Sacha Kljestan for three seasons.