Nashville SC has acquired U.S. international defender Walker Zimmerman from LAFC, giving the expansion side a massive boost ahead of its inaugural season.
LAFC will receive an MLS record amount of allocation money for a defender in the deal. Nashville is sending $600,000 of allocation money in 2020, $350,000 in 2021 as well as incentives based on games played which could push the total to $1.25 million. LAFC will also receive an international roster spot. Last year, Minnesota United sent $1m in allocation money to Sporting Kansas City for Ike Opara, who was named MLS Defender of the Year in 2019.
"In his two seasons in Los Angeles, Walker was a consummate professional and a great leader on and off the field," said LAFC EVP & general manager John Thorrington. "He and his wife Sally played an integral role within the LAFC family and community, and he will always be a part of our history.
"On behalf of the Club, we wish Walker and his family nothing but the best in his future."
The move is a shock considering that Zimmerman has been a mainstay for LAFC since arriving prior to the 2018 campaign, making 59 league, playoff and cup appearances while scoring five goals. He has also broken through at international level, making 12 appearances while scoring two goals.
But LAFC is prepared to move on with Eddie Segura, Danilo Silva and Tristan Blackmon as the available center-backs ahead of its initial foray into the CONCACAF Champions League. LAFC will play Leon in the away leg of the round of 16 matchup on Feb. 18 with the return leg taking place on Feb. 27.
Reports in Europe suggested that Anderlecht defender Andy Najar is set to sign with LAFC, but Thorrington said the club is has only offered Najar a place to train in a bid to return to full fitness with no immediate plans to sign him.
Thorrington said: "Andy is not in the plans of his club in Belgium and we were approached and asked if we would help in his return to fitness. That is all it is.
"There are numerous things that would need to happen before we would even be in a place to talk about [signing Najar]."
The deal does mark the second time Zimmerman has been traded within the league. After breaking in with FC Dallas in 2013 the defender was traded to LAFC prior to the 2018 season for a total of $500,000 in allocation money plus the top spot in the allocation ranking. With Dallas, Zimmerman had made 110 league, playoff and cup appearances while scoring eight goals.
Thorrington admitted it wouldn't be easy to replace Zimmerman, but said the club liked its options, particularly with the addition of the allocation money coming from the Nashville deal.
"We're not going to do anything in the immediate term," Thorrington said. "What I would say is Tristan [Blackmon] will obviously be given more opportunities. Now we're very optimistic about his future and what he can add.
"And look, we understand Walker's shoes are not easy ones to fill, but having said that, we do feel confident with what we do have now and the options that are now open to us given the resources now available."