Columbus Crew SC announced on Friday the permanent transfer of 20-year-old left back Milton Valenzuela from his parent club Newell’s Old Boys. The defender came on loan to the Black & Gold last season and now will remain in Columbus for the foreseeable future.
“Milton is a player who was able to make an immediate impact on the field at a young age and has become one of the premier left backs in Major League Soccer,” Crew SC interim general manager Pat Onstad in the team’s press release. “We felt that securing his permanent transfer from Newell’s Old Boys was a priority this offseason. We are excited to have him back with the Club for the upcoming season and look forward to seeing his continued development and growth.”
There’s no denying that Valenzuela made a positive impact for the Black & Gold during his first season on loan in MLS. The defender performed well in his 30 appearances (29 starts) for Columbus, scoring one goal and serving up six assists.
When Valenzuela arrived in Columbus, he provided stability to a position that had questions surrounding it. The Argentine was aggressive on the defensive end, but found a home in the attack playing in an advanced position in Gregg Berhalter’s offense.
Valenzuela completed a league best 27 crosses from the run of play in 2017, the best of any defender in the league. His 87 tackles put him behind only Minnesota United FC’s Rasmus Schuller (145), Orlando City SC’s Mohamed El-Munir (100) and FC Dallas’ Reggie Cannon (92).
Of his 87 tackles, the 20-year-old won 57 of them, the third-most among MLS defenders during the 2018 regular season. Additionally, Valenzuela led Crew SC in tackles, tackles won, tackles per 90 minutes (3.06) and successful open crosses (27).
Before joining the Black & Gold Valenzuela played in Argentina’s top league with Old Boys, making 13 appearances and 10 starts. The left back also made two appearances (both starts) for the club in Copa Argentina, Argentina’s domestic cup tournament. Valenzuela has appeared 10 times (nine starts) for Argentina’s Under-20 squad team.
Crew SC signed Valenzuela to a Young Designated Player contract, making him the third Designated Player on the roster. He joins Pedro Santos and Federico Higuain as Designated Players heading into the 2019 season.
The Black & Gold are currently in a bit of a holding pattern as a new ownership of Pete Edwards and Dee and Jimmy Haslam look to purchase the investor/operator rights from MLS. Recently, the league announced the home openers for each team, including Crew SC beginning the season at MAPFRE Stadium against the New York Red Bulls. This, along with the acquisition of Valenzuela are all positive signs that a deal is getting closer to becoming finalized.