With Major League Soccer’s secondary transfer window coming to a close on August 3rd, the Portland Timbers have made their final signing of the summer, bringing on board Nigerian center back Gbenga Arokoyo.
The Timbers were forced to trade for Arokoyo’s discovery rights, sending Targeted Allocation Money and a conditional 2017 third round Superdraft pick to New York City FC in exchange.
Arokoyo, 23, most recently played for Gaziantepspor in the Turkish Super Lig, making 35 league appearances for the side since joining the team over the summer of 2014. When healthy, Arokoyo has been an occasional starter for Gaziantepspor, but missed much of the 2015-16 season due to calf and thigh injuries. After making his return, however, Arokoyo finished the Turkish season in rough form, playing three matches for Gaziantepspor — all of which were losses — before being relegated to the bench to close out the season.
The defender’s injury-riddled year and recent layoff over the European off season, as well as the need to wait for his ITC, could keep Arokoyo from jumping into the Timbers’ lineup for some time, despite the side’s current need for healthy bodies along the back line.
Arokoyo leaves his former club under unfortunate conditions: according to the player he was not being paid by the Gaziantepspor. To get out of his four year contract, of which he had only served two years, Arokoyo was forced to turn to the Turkish Football Federation, who nullified the deal and made him a free agent.
When he is healthy, the Timbers should find themselves with a calm defender who is used to playing out of the back and has experience as a youth international with Nigeria, having played for the U-20’s, and more recently got his first caps for the Super Eagles’ full side, coming on as a substitute in wins over Mali and Luxembourg this May.
The Timbers’ press release: