Minnesota United and U.S. men's national team midfielder Miguel Ibarra is transferring to Liga MX side Leon, his NASL team announced on Thursday. He'll make the move after the conclusion of the NASL spring season, which ends on Saturday.
Ibarra made waves when he was called in to U.S. camp by Jurgen Klinsmann for a pair of October 2014 friendlies, an usual distinction for a second-division player. He won NASL's Golden Ball award as the league's MVP in 2014 and has been with Minnesota since 2012, tallying 16 goals and 11 assists in 93 appearances.
"Miguel has been a wonderful part of our club for the past several years,” United president Nick Rogers said in a statement. “He is everything you like to see in a player: he's talented, hard-working, and humble. He leads with his actions. He’s also a great person who cares deeply for his friends, his family, his teammates, and his club. For all of these reasons, it’s a bittersweet day for us. You hate to say goodbye to a player like this, but the reality is that this deal is a win for the club, for Miguel and for León.”
Reports suggest Leon paid between $1-2 million for Ibarra, who was part of the USA roster for June friendlies against the Netherlands and Germany but did not play. He was also not included on Klinsmann's provisional 35-man roster for next month's Gold Cup.
As part of the deal, Leon and Minnesota United will play a friendly next month in Minnesota, with Ibarra, born in the USA to Mexican parents, playing a half for both teams.
He joins goalkeeper William Yarbrough and midfielder Dennis Flores (U-23) as U.S. internationals with the club.
“I am 100% excited for Miguel and the opportunities that he has had over the last several years with our club and the U.S. national team,” United manager Manny Lagos said. “He is going to be playing in a great league in Mexico. Miguel has been a huge part of the core of this team’s successes for many years and we feel that we have grown as a club at the same time he has grown as a player.
Minnesota United is slated to join MLS as an expansion team either in 2017 or 2018, depending on LAFC's stadium progress.