Atlanta United lands Darlington Nagbe in blockbuster trade with Portland Timbers

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Jamie Valdez
The U.S. international will head to the second-year club to join an already explosive attack that includes Josef Martinez and Miguel Almiron

Atlanta United has acquired Darlington Nagbe from the Portland Timbers in a trade, the two MLS teams announced Wednesday.

In exchange for the U.S. international, the Timbers will receive up to $1.65 million in allocation money and an international player spot. Atlanta also received Gbenga Arokoyo in the deal.

“Darlington was our top target in the league this offseason and we’re ecstatic to welcome him to our club,” Atlanta United technical director Carlos Bocanegra said in a statement. “He is a perfect fit for our style of play as he has a dynamic ability to dribble out of trouble, maintain possession and make passes that bring additional players into the game.”

The 27-year-old midfielder was the Timbers first-ever MLS draft pick in 2011 and has spent the entirety of his professional career with the Cascadia club. He scored 27 goals and added 30 asissts over the course of 214 regular-season games with Portland. He also added a goal and two assists over 12 playoff games with the pair of assists coming in Portland's run to the MLS Cup in 2015.

Nagbe has been deployed both as a winger and inside as a playmaker during his time in Portland.

The Liberian-born Nagbe became a U.S. citizen in 2015 and has been capped 24 times for the U.S. national team.

“As the club’s first-ever MLS draft pick, Darlington has grown with this team from its beginnings in the league and has been a great player and representative in his seven years with the Timbers,” said Portland general manager Gavin Wilkinson in a statement. “On behalf of the entire organization, I want to sincerely thank Darlington for everything he has given this club and for helping Portland win its first MLS Cup in 2015. He will always be a part of the Timbers family, and we wish Darlington, his wife, Felicia, and their two children all the best.”

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The breakdown of the money Portland receive includes $650,000 in general allocation money in 2018, $100,000 in general allocation money in 2019 and $300,000 in targeted allocation money in 2018. In addition to those funds and the international player slot, the Timbers may receive $600,000 in future fees depending on Nagbe's performance in Atlanta.

Nagbe will join an impressive collection of attacking talent in Atlanta, already featuring Miguel Almiron, Josef Martinez and Hector Villalba. Under coach Tata Martino, Atlanta scored 70 goals in its debut season, trailing the league-best attack of Toronto FC by just four goals, en route to a playoff appearance. 

Arokoyo is a 25-year-old defender who played in just one game for the Timbers in 2016 before going down with a season-ending injury before the 2017 season. Prior to signing in Portland Arokoyo played for Gaziantepspor in Turkey's top division and Mjallby AIF in Sweden's top league. 

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