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Official: Timbers sign striker Samuel Armenteros

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Benevento Calcio v US Sassuolo - Serie A Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images

That escalated quickly.

Barely a week after reports of the club’s interest in Swedish striker Samuel Armenteros first surfaced, the Portland Timbers have their man. On Friday, the Timbers officially announced their acquisition of Armenteros, 27, from Serie A side Benevento Calcio on loan with an option to purchase. The Timbers brought Armenteros to Portland using targeted allocation money — the fourth such acquisition they have made this offseason.

Armenteros’ time in Benevento comes to an end after a disappointing half-season in which the Swedish striker struggled to consistently break into the team. Appearing just nine times for Benevento and scoring only once since joining the recently promoted side this fall, Armenteros is putting a quick end to his first taste of Italian football.

The Swedish striker, however, was hardly alone in his struggles in Benevento, as the team is entrenched in last place in Serie A on a meager seven points through 23 matches. If that pace continues, the witch-crested club will flirt with being the worst team in Serie A history. Benevento’s current leading scorer this season has notched three goals.

Armenteros’ time in Eredivisie, the Dutch top flight, was considerably more fruitful. Playing with Heracles last season, Armenteros registered 19 goals in just over 2500 minutes, good enough for third in all of Eredivisie. And it wasn’t merely a fluke flash of productivity in Holland; over the course of his seven-year career in Eredivisie (interrupted by brief spells in Belgium and Azerbaijan) Armenteros scored 57 goals in 177 appearances. Although 2017 was his most prolific season in the Dutch top flight, it was the fourth time he reached double-digit goals. Armenteros, then, comes to Portland with a proven goalscoring pedigree in one of Europe’s better and most attack-heavy leagues.

But for 45 minutes of a tuneup with Heracles’s reserve side, it appears Armenteros would not have come to Portland at all. As recently as mid-January, reports indicated Armenteros would be heading back to Eredivisie with Utrecht. Armenteros, however, made a tune-up appearance with Heracles’s reserve side last summer before transferring to Benevento. Because Armenteros made that appearance in an official competition, FIFA regulations that prohibit registration with three clubs in the same season blocked the move to Utrecht.

MLS’s season, though, does not track the European calendar and, thus, his registration with the Timbers will not occur during the same season as his appearances with Heracles and Benevento. As a result, the failed move to Utrecht cleared the way for Armenteros to join the Timbers, and the striker is able to join the team without delay.

The Swedish forward will join the Timbers as — at very least — the first attacking option off the bench. If the Timbers’ new striker acclimates to Portland and MLS quickly, he may even push Fanendo Adi for minutes starting up top. Although Armenteros doesn’t possess Adi’s physical stature, the Swede’s pace, movement, and finishing ability have the potential to create a stylistically-complimentary striker platoon in the mold of what the Timbers enjoyed with Adi and Maximiliano Urruti in 2014 and 2015.

With the signing of Armenteros, the Timbers have completed their major offseason moves. All told, the Timbers have acquired four TAM-level players this winter, of which Armenteros, at 27, is the only player over 24-years-old. Although only Andy Polo is expected to step into the starting lineup immediately, each of Armenteros, Cristhian Paredes, and Julio Cascante are likely in line for significant minutes in 2018.