VANCOUVER — The transfer saga has come to a close. On Friday, the Vancouver Whitecaps made Ali Adnan’s loan deal from Udinese Calcio permanent by signing him to a deal that will keep him in Canada until 2021, with an option for 2022.
The Iraqi international will become a Designated Player, a move made possible after Vancouver utilized discretionary Targeted Allocation Money on striker Joaquín Ardaiz Friday. As a result, the striker will no longer occupy a Designated Player roster slot.
“Ali has been a great addition to our club since arriving in March,” Whitecaps FC coach Marc Dos Santos said in a statement. “He understands our defensive principles and has an incredible ability to join the attack, create in the last third, which is very important for teams that want to have an impact offensively using their fullbacks.”
“From my first day at this club, I feel like I’m at home. It’s not easy to find a club like this,” Adnan said in a statement. “I am very thankful to the club’s ownership, coaches, staff, and my teammates. The fans and city of Vancouver have been extremely welcoming and supportive. I look forward to representing everyone at the club to the best of my ability.”
Keeping Adnan in Vancouver, however, has not been easy. Following Saturday’s 1-0 loss in Seattle Saturday, there were reports a deal was close to being concluded. But this week, Dos Santos was seemingly frustrated with the length of the negotiations.
”Look, I respect you guys, and I know that you’re doing your job, but it’s been annoying now for me,” Dos Santos said to the press following training Wednesday. “For one month, everybody’s always asking me. But when it’s confirmed, on the right side or not, then we can talk.”
“It’s a process, a lot of people are involved,” Dos Santos said. “On Ali’s side, and our side, it’s done. Now it’s a little bit out of our control, and it’s frustrating.”
On Friday it was finally done.
“This has been a thorough process, and I give a lot of credit to our ownership and to our staff for their hard work and diligence throughout,” said Dos Santos. “Ali has thoroughly enjoyed his time here and has received tremendous support from our fans. We are very pleased that Ali is committed to Vancouver and our club.”
Keeping Adnan is an important piece of business for the Whitecaps ahead of the secondary transfer window, which opens July 9.
The left back won 136 duels this season, second among defenders in Major League Soccer, and sixth overall in the league. Adnan’s ability to carry the ball up the field has been a significant contribution to a Whitecaps attack that has struggled to produce goals this season. Adnan has completed 35 dribbles — the most by a defender, and the 13th most overall in MLS. He’s played 71 passes into the area — tied for third-most among all defenders in the league.
Adnan is expected to be the highest paid defender in MLS and the best-paid player in the history of the club. At a guaranteed compensation of $1.21 million, Houston Dynamo’s Kiki Struna is currently the highest paid defender in the league.
The transfer fee to Udinese is expected to be in the region of $2 million. Although a significant amount of money, the Whitecaps have only spent a fraction of the money earned from the Alphonso Davies transfer to Bayern Munich and will have room to make more signings in the upcoming transfer window.