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Crew transfers Lucas Zelarayan to Saudi side Al Fateh


The Saudi Pro League has continued to make major splashes during the summer transfer window and one of Major League Soccer’s premier attacking talents has joined the growing list abroad.

Saudi side Al Fateh has acquired Columbus Crew midfielder Lucas Zelarayán for an undisclosed transfer fee, the Crew announced Monday. The Armenian international joined the Crew in December 2019 from Liga MX club Tigres and proceeded to play a key role for Columbus.

Zelarayan totaled 38 goals and 30 assists in 97 regular season matches for the Crew, eventually winning MLS Cup MVP honors in 2020. He also led the Crew to the Campeones Cup title in 2021.

A two-time MLS All-Star, the 31-year-old scored twice and added one assist in the Crew’s 3-0 MLS Cup Finals victory over the Seattle Sounders in 2020. Zelarayan joined former LAFC winger Cristian Tello in the Crew roster.

“We greatly appreciate everything Lucas has done for the Crew, including his efforts to help us win the MLS Cup, the many memorable moments and goals, and his dedication to the Club and our supporters,” said President and General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko. “When we signed Lucas, we knew he would make an immediate impact on our team, our club and our city, and we thank him for being a key contributor to the Club’s recent success and helping launch this new era of the Crew. 

Columbus sits sixth in the Eastern Conference with 36 points earned in 23 matches.

The Crew faces Club America on Monday night in Leagues Cup play.


  1. “Crew transfers Lucas Zelarayan to Saudi side Al Fateh…..THEN MANHANDLE CLUB AMERICA 4 – 1 in Leagues Cup”.

    Darlington Nagbe (Pressure release valve)……Cucho Hernández (should have had a hat-trick and some)……Steven Moreira (right back that went into striker mode!!!)……Christian Ramirez……were absolutely amazing against the Mexican Powerhouse (even with Alex Zendejas)

    • Crew are my club and have been since year 1 of MLS. We probably should have been down 3 or 4 to 1 to be honest. That’s how we play though right on the edge. Our bench is pretty poor that’s usually how we’ve give up points is running out of gas and then having weak backups. Molino being healthy helps Matan or Gressell subbing on in the second half will be a nice look too.

  2. Well that’s interesting. Take the money and run! I still have no desire to watch that league regardless how much older talent moves there.

    • Yeah, I missed the start of that game, so I was like: “wut?” when Gressel came on…I was like: weren’t you with Vancouver last I looked?

      Still pretty wild…without Zelarayan, Columbus still laid out Club freakin’ America 4-1. Be genuinely curious to see what Columbus got for him…it was getting time to sell him if they were going to, since Zelarayan’s contract runs down in December ’24 and the closer he got to the end of it the less leverage Columbus was going to have. He was also making $3.2 million a year – the highest on the Crew – and he was 31, which isn’t ancient but it does suggest his performance might start dropping off in the next couple years, and his market value (around $7.5 million) was likely never going to be higher than it is now. And you know the Crew made the Saudis overpay – probably wildly – for his services, which suggests they probably got $10+ million (or more. most likely) for him.

      That’s a whole lot of cheddar suddenly available for a replacement. It won’t get you a Messi but it could still get you somebody really good since you could probably afford to throw as much as $16 million into the contract…which means you could probably sign a guy who was as pricey as $5 million a year for three years without spending a dime more than they were.

      Even in Europe that gets you a really good midfielder. I mean, Christian Pulisic and Ruben Loftus-Cheek are both making that for AC Milan, Weston McKennie is making that for Juventus, and it’s double what Gio Reyna is making for Dortmund and triple what Yunus Musah was making for Valencia.

      I’ll say this for the Saudi Pro League…IMHO, it helps both MLS and American soccer players in general. Major League Soccer, like the Netherlands, is likely to remain a selling league for the foreseeable future and having a sugar daddy like the Saudis suddenly emerge pumps just a whole lot of money into the MLS system. And it also drags a ton of older European players who once lingered around in the Top-5 leagues out of the Euro system since those are the guys looking for one last big payday, and that in turn opens a lot of Top-5 spots for newer, younger talent…which the US has a bumper crop of. How many European teams’ eyes might light up upon realizing Jesus Ferreira can be had for just $1.5 million a year, Brandon Vasquez for $900K, Aidan Morris for $400K, or Drake Callender for just $300K? More than a couple, I suspect.

      • Q it looks like you’re talking salaries. There is no way FCD would take 1.5 for Ferreira. I would bet not a penny under 10 million but probably would be asking closer to 15.

      • JR-

        Oh, for sure. Dallas will want at least close to the $20 million they got for Pepi for the transfer fee…though I think his lack of a clear position will lower his selling price. I agree…$10-$15 million sounds about right. That’s still a bargain for a guy who can score like Ferreira can, who has the positional flexibility Ferreira has, and who has both the insane speed and stamina the Ferreira has. Jesus is a 90-minutes-a-game-every-game guy with maybe the best set of iron lungs I’ve ever seen, and that gives you just enormous flexibility elsewhere. If I had a Serie A, La Liga, or French team he’d be one of the first calls I made. I don’t know if he belongs in a league as physical and brutal as the Prem or B1, but anywhere else I think he excels.

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