D.C. United announced today that academy product Andy Najar has been transferred to R.S.C. Anderlecht. Najar became Major League Soccer’s first homegrown player to permanently move to a European side. Per team and League policy, the details of the deal were not disclosed but reports estimate the price tag to be at least $2 million.
The defender/midfieldier initially went on a training stint through the month of December before being loaned to the Belgian side for the month of January. The 19-year-old played 90 minutes in a January 11 friendly in a 4-2 victory against Dutch club SC Heracles Almelo and scored in a reserve match last week.
“It has been very rewarding to watch Andy grow and develop into becoming the special player that he is,” said D.C. United General Manager Dave Kasper in a team release. “This transfer is a testament to the hard work of our Academy staff, to Ben and his staff for their patience and vision, and to the MLS Homegrown Player initiative. We wish Andy all of the success in the world and we look forward to watching his career blossom. Looking ahead, we plan to focus on utilizing our resources and flexibility to continue to build our team.”
“Andy is an extremely hard player to replace with our group but I'm excited for him and the opportunity he has in front of him,” said D.C. United Head Coach Ben Olsen in the same release. “Watching Andy grow and develop as a player has been a very rewarding process for the club, our staff, and me personally, and we wish him the best in Europe.”
In an open letter to fans, the 19-year-old thanked the United organization that first sparked his career while still enrolled in a local high school.
“I would like to thank everyone connected to the club for everything that has been done to help me and my family since I joined the academy years ago,” said Andy Najar. “I must thank Dave Kasper, Will Chang, Jason Levien and Erick Thohir for understanding my childhood dream to play in Europe. A special thanks to my coach Ben Olsen and all of his staff. I came to D.C. United and chose #14 because I wanted to follow in his footsteps. He has been a great coach and more importantly an excellent role model for me to learn from. My teammates have cared for me like a little brother during this journey and I wouldn’t have been blessed with this chance without their hard work. Most importantly I would like to thank the fans of the Club. From day one when I signed as a young man, they have supported me in tough moments and enjoyed the good times with me.”
In Najar’s third season with United, he played in 25 regular-season matches, starting 22, and notching four assists. The converted right fullback is a product of D.C. United’s Youth Academy and was the second Homegrown Player to sign with the first team on March 22, 2010. That year, he went on to win the 2010 MLS Rookie of the Year award, as well as being named the 2010 D.C. United Volkswagen MVP. In his brief, yet illustrious D.C. United career, Andy Najar tallied 10 goals and 11 assists in the 82 MLS matches (72 starts) in which he appeared.
Najar has made three appearances with the senior Honduras National Team and seven for the U-23s, including a run in the 2012 London Olympics in which the squad advanced to the quarterfinals. He earned his first cap for the country on September 3, 2011 against Colombia at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ.