What’s Darlington Nagbe’s Buyout Clause?

When does a big European soccer club buy Portland Timbers midfielder Darlington Nagbe? They’d be smart to buy Nagbe before the upcoming World Cup in Russia, and not after, since his transfer fee will likely go up.

Plus, Nagbe is now scoring goals like this for the Portland Timbers…


What is the Portland Timbers buyout clause for Nagbe anyway? PSG paid Barcelona close to $260 million for Neymar, and in the MLS, Orlando City paid about $1.6 million for Dom Dwyer. And D.C. United just paid over $3 million to Club Tijuana for Paul Arriola, a 22 year old coming off an impressive showing in the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup. I don’t think it’s crazy to say that Nagbe is worth at least $10 to $20 million to the Portland Timbers if he was to go.

I wonder if there’s someone in the back offices of the Portland Timbers looking at an excel spreadsheet with Nagbe’s name at the top of the list and increasing the amount of his buyout fee after every assist or goal he scores. Or, certainly ticking the fee higher after every new record breaking fee is paid to other lesser MLS players.

Nagbe is a unique soccer player, one who doesn’t even really have to score goals or even set them up to be valuable to his team, though he does both. What he does is hold on to the ball and doesn’t lose it and thus helps his team progress up the soccer field. That may sound quaint, but it’s key cog in one’s team.

But he also drives at defenders on the dribble and creates openings for other players when they step to him. He kind of does a lot of stop and goes with the ball with the defender on his back, shimming away from pressure as he carries the ball, getting the ball and giving it and then getting it back. It wears down the other team as Nagbe grinds the ball up the sideline with passes, dribbles, another passes and more dribbles and more shielding. I’m sure he’s frustrating to play against.

Real Madrid’s Isco does a similar thing for his team. Iniesta for Barcelona. Both are top soccer players are who rarely lose the ball and grind other teams down. Draw fouls. Create chances. Keep possession. Shield the ball while others get open. While you might not put Nagbe in the category of those two players, he is similar. He’s in the mold of the likes of Mata and Silva as grows as a player.

But if a big European club doesn’t buy Nagbe, then a team down the table a bit surely should. He’d fit most in Spain, I’d say, where they possess the ball. While he’s not young, at 27 years old, he’s nearly in his prime.

Yes, Celtic just last year seemed like on the verge of signing Nagbe for a transfer fee of $1.8 million. Not sure why the trade didn’t go through exactly, Nagbe want to a Celtic match but returned to the Timbers.

You could also make the argument that on a top team, with even better players, Nagbe would too become better and make more of an impact. There though he’d have to score those goal scoring chances he’d likely get.

This holding on to the ball in tight spaces while under pressure is a skill highly sought after. Teams will pay for that ability and talent. Shielding, wanting the ball, holding it, it’s a skill that doesn’t get enough attention in the game of soccer.

The Portland Timbers are smart, they probably don’t want to give up Nagbe. So the transfer fee will rise if he continues to play well for the U.S. national team and especially if he has a successful World Cup.

Surely Nagbe is destined to at least go out on loan this off-season to a bigger club, to test the waters and see if he fits with a team in Europe. I would love to see how he does. And I’m curious to see what the tranfer fee is for him if he leaves the MLS. Years ago, when Jozy Altidore was sold to Villareal, his transfer fee was close to $10 million. I’m guessing will beat that record MLS transfer fee number.