September 24, 2008

Javier Morales has had a breakout year for Real Salt Lake: tied for second in MLS for assists (10), third on the team in goals (four), fourth on the team in minutes played.

And for his efforts, the club on Tuesday announced it has bought outright the Argentine midfielder's contract from Spanish second-division side UD Vesindario. He has been loan from the since the summer of 2007.

"Javier is the guy who plays the No. 10 for us and he's very active," RSL general manager Garth Lagerway told on Tuesday. "That's important to us, that he covers a lot of ground."

The contract is the standard MLS two-year contract with two one-year options, which could keep Morales in Salt Lake City through 2012. He is making $240,000 this year, according to the MLS Players Union, and is due to earn more with his new contract.

"The club offered me the extension and I accepted it because I feel comfortable here," Morales told the Deseret News. "Comfortable with not just the team and the coaching staff, but also with living in Salt Lake City as well."

Lagerway believes the 28-year-old Morales, who has also spent time with Arsenal de Sarandi, Lanus and Newell's Old Boys in his native country, has the talent to be one of the best midfielders in MLS, if not the very best.

"Yeah, he has the potential to be the best," Lagerway said. "And we signed him with that in mind. We think he will be one of the elite playmakers for years to come." --

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