sports 4 days ago

Crew makes deal to bring Artur back

The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio — Andrew Erickson The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio

Dec. 07--Crew SC's defensive midfield appears to be set for next season.

The Crew announced Wednesday it acquired Artur, who played for Crew SC in 2017 on a season-long loan from the Brazilian club Sao Paulo FC, on a full transfer.

Specific terms of the deal were not disclosed. According to Brazilian news outlet UOL Esporte, which first reported the deal Tuesday night, the Crew paid $1.5 million in exercising the purchase option spelled out in the 21-year-old midfielder's loan agreement.

Artur will continue to occupy an international roster spot with Crew SC.

Reports in recent weeks indicated Sao Paulo was intent on bringing Artur back at the end of his one-year loan stint. The Crew announced Friday it had picked up its option on Artur for the 2018 season, but said in a statement it was continuing talks with Sao Paulo FC.

Over the last few days, those talks produced an agreement the Crew prioritized entering the offseason.

"I think because of the timing of dealing with foreign clubs and the timing of everything, that's why we prioritized it," Crew coach and sporting director Gregg Berhalter said. "Artur certainly has outstanding quality and we know what we have with him, so it was imperative that we wrap this up rather quickly."

Artur appeared in 24 games during the 2017 season, making 19 starts. He made three starts in the playoffs and scored his first professional goal in the Crew's 4-1 win over New York City FC in Leg 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

His rate of 3.86 tackles per 90 minutes was the sixth-highest in Major League Soccer this season.

Artur began training with Crew SC during its preseason trip to Sao Paulo in January and officially joined the team on loan from Sao Paulo FC in February. He made his MLS debut March 4 against Chicago, subbing on for the final 14 minutes, and made his first start at Houston a week later.

Artur remains in a defensive midfield core that returns regular starter Wil Trapp and contributor Mohammed Abu.

"We're a step ahead of where we were last year not having to integrate two new guys," Berhalter said. "Now it's up to those three guys to take their game to the next level to help the team even more."

In his first full season of professional soccer, Artur missed some time due to injuries -- a broken wrist and later hamstring and calf strains -- but was for the most part an impact player. It was a typical first season in professional soccer, said Berhalter, who called Artur one of the "most promising young players in the league."

"What became apparent is that he was progressing, and that's what we saw in him," Berhalter said. "His performances were getting better and better as the season was going and that's where we knew we had someone special."

aerickson@dispatch.com

@AEricksonCD

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