Orlando City announced this afternoon that the club has agreed to transfer midfielder Yoshimar Yotún to Liga MX club Cruz Azul for an undisclosed amount. Jordan Culver of ProSoccerUSA.com reported that a league source indicated the transfer is worth $4 million.
The 28-year-old Peruvian international joined Orlando City on Aug. 4, 2017 and quickly became a key part of the Lions midfield. During his two seasons in Orlando, Yotún made 32 appearances, recording 2,857 minutes with five goals and 14 assists. He was named to the MLS All-Star team in 2018. Yotún took part in the 2018 FIFA World Cup as a member of the Peruvian national team, playing in three games and recording 180 minutes.
“Yoshi has been an important player for this Club; however, he expressed interest in Cruz Azul at the conclusion of the season,” Orlando City Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations Luiz Muzzi said in a club statement. “We worked closely with him and his agent to keep him in Orlando, including offering new contract options. Ultimately, the player had his mind set on a move to Mexico and we reached the best possible outcome for both him and the Club. We thank Yoshi for his time with Orlando City and wish him the best of luck in the future.”
Yotún had been linked with a move to the Mexican club over the past couple of weeks, though the club had denied any interest in selling the midfielder. In the end, the Lions were unable to keep their star man.
What It Means for Orlando City
The most obvious thing is that the Lions now have to replace arguably their best player over the last two seasons. That is just one more tall task for Muzzi and James O’Connor to accomplish during the current rebuild. Yotún was the club’s best set piece taker, field of play switcher, and creator. He was so good at it that Orlando City played him as more of an attacking midfielder most of the time than his usual deeper lying spot with Peru, which also sometimes deploys him at left back. His loss could potentially be mitigated with the rumored additions of attacking midfielder Diego Ribas and young Ecuadorian central midfielder Jhegson Méndez (story forthcoming).
As a business transaction, Yotún was a win for Orlando City if available numbers are to be believed. Transfermarkt had listed his cost from Malmo in Sweden at $800,000, so if the reported $4 million sale is true, that would mean a hefty profit for the Lions, minus the league’s cut. Muzzi and company will have to put that cash to good use if Orlando is going to climb out of the Eastern Conference basement.