Columbus Crew SC have transferred Norweigan center-back Nicolai Naess to SC Heerenveen, a club in the first division of the Dutch league.
Crew SC added Naess from Staebeck of the Norwegian Tippeligaen in July of 2016. At the time, the Black and Gold were painfully thin at center back.
During the 2017 season, Columbus has dramatically improved their options at the position with addition the Designated Player Jonathan Mensah, re-entry draft signing Josh Williams, Homegrown player Alex Crognale, and first-round draft pick Lalas Abubakar.
With four starting-caliber center backs on the roster, and the potential return of Gaston Sauro in 2018, at least one player had to be moved.
After a rough middle of the season, Naess found himself out of favor with manager Gregg Berhalter. Having started out the 2017 season as a first-choice center back, Naess started only three matches after July 1, and played only 47 total minutes as a substitute over that same period of time.
“Nico is a talented young player with a great character and a bright future,” Berhalter said of Naess. “We are happy to reach an agreement with SC Heerenveen that benefits both Nico and our club. As a club, we take pride in developing the international and professional careers of players on our roster. Nico worked hard for this opportunity and we wish him well in the next step in his career.”
While there are no details on the figures in the transfer, Andrew Erickson of the Columbus Dispatch reports that Columbus “doubled it’s investment in Naess” with this transfer.
As an international player, Naess took up a valuable international roster spot, which can now be used by Columbus.