The Portland Timbers have acquired 22-year-old Argentine forward Lucas Melano from Lanús for a $5 million transfer fee, a source with knowledge of the deal told SI.com on Thursday. Melano has signed a guaranteed four-year contract (with an option year) that will pay him around $1 million per year, and the Timbers will cover the entirety of the transfer fee.
Portland will announce the signing in a press conference on Friday.
Melano, who had drawn interest from clubs in Spain (Villarreal, Celta Vigo) and Mexico (Santos Laguna), will be the Timbers' third Designated Player, along with Diego Valeri and Liam Ridgewell. Portland is using MLS’s new targeted allocation money to pay down the salary budget value of Fanendo Adi, who will no longer count as a Designated Player.
The Timbers become the second team to use the new mechanism after the LA Galaxy did so to buy down Omar Gonzalez's contract in order to acquire Mexico's Giovani dos Santos as a DP.
Melano becomes the fifth Argentine on the current Timbers squad, joining Valeri, Gastón Fernández, Norberto Paparatto and Maxi Urruti.
Lanús, which is coached by former MLS MVP Guillermo Barros Schelotto, was also the last club where Valeri played before joining the Timbers. Melano scored three goals in Lanús’s run to the 2013 Copa Sudamericana title.
In March of this year, Melano scored four goals in a single league game in Lanús’s 5-1 win over Godoy Cruz. He has five goals total in 14 league games in 2015.
Melano is known as a player with good speed as well as height (he’s 6’1”) who can play as a center forward or as a wing. Just turned 22, he fits the philosophy of the Timbers, who have tended to prefer signing younger DPs with potential (Adi, Jose Adolfo Valencia for example), than pursuing big-named stars in their 30s.
The Timbers (9-7-4) are currently fourth in the Western Conference, but their 22 goals (in 20 games) are the fewest among the 12 teams currently occupying MLS's playoff places.