On Thursday, Columbus Crew SC announced that winger Justin Meram has signed a multi-year contract extension with the club. The 28-year-old Iraqi International is in his seventh season with the Black & Gold, making him the longest-tenured player on the team. Currently sitting eighth on the all-time club appearance list, he was the team MVP last season.
Exact terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) was used as part of the deal. Meram’s contract last year was for $185,000. Here are the league rules on TAM:
“A Player must earn more than $480,625 per year (2017 maximum budget charge) to qualify for Targeted Allocation Money. The compensation ceiling for such players is set at $1,000,000 per year, unless amounts are applied midseason to buy down the budget charge of an existing Designated Player.”
There had been much speculation surrounding Meram’s future, with rumors of his departure swirling for the last few transfer windows. Our own Patrick Guldan wrote last year about the options surrounding Meram and the club, and solidifying a deal this early in the season should go a long way to eliminating any unsettling rumors that tend to pop up in the summer transfer window.
Meram, for his part, is happy about the deal.
“This contract extension means a lot to me,” he said in the press release. “Having this club believe in me for multiple years to come is something that throughout my career I’ve worked hard to achieve.”
In his time with Crew SC Meram has contributed 24 goals and 27 assists, including notching assists in each of his last five MLS regular season matches. His 27 assists are enough to place him ninth on the all time team assist list. He is also one of only eight players to reach the 20 goal and 20 assist mark for the club.
The University of Michigan man has also been lauded for his contributions on defense and off the ball, which rarely show up on the stat line. His play, particularly since the arrival of head coach Gregg Berhalter in 2014, has been stellar enough that he has earned 20 caps for Iraq, scoring two goals.
His 2017 is also off to a promising start, as he contributed the assist on Ethan Finlay’s season-opening goal this past Saturday.