Well, the saga is over, as the LA Galaxy announced on Friday that defender Julian Araujo has been transferred to FC Barcelona. The news confirms Araujo will not play for the Galaxy in 2023. While the Galaxy disclosed they will retain a sell-on fee if Araujo is sold, the transfer fee, which they did not announce, is reportedly a little under $4 million.
“Julián joining FC Barcelona is a great story of a young kid from Southern California coming into the LA Galaxy Academy, through LA Galaxy II and excelling with the First Team,” said LA Galaxy head coach and sporting director Greg Vanney in a team statement. “As we continue to evolve as a club, we’re leaning heavily into the LA Galaxy Academy development side. We are going to help develop players who can play at the biggest clubs in the world, but can also help the LA Galaxy win championships. We wish Julián all the best in the next phase of his career.”
Araujo, 21, made 108 appearances across all competitions for the Galaxy first team, after joining in 2019. A two-time MLS All-Star, the right back from Lompoc went from a raw youngster with promise to a regular starter in LA and arguably the most stable player on the backline during his tenure.
While the announcement concludes the saga publicly on the Galaxy side, the deal appears to be effectively a future transfer in actual terms. Araujo was supposed to transfer to the European giants on Spain’s transfer deadline day in January, but the deal was not completed in time because Barcelona claimed a “technical issue” meant the deal was finished 18 seconds past the deadline. While the Galaxy and Barcelona appealed to FIFA to allow the deal to come through and make an exception, FIFA reportedly refused to give one. Araujo was therefore left in limbo for a couple weeks, and curiously, was not allowed to play for the Galaxy in preseason, according to Vanney. It’s unclear if LA sent Araujo’s ITC to Barcelona and the player was not able to legally participate with his current club, or if Barcelona asked the Galaxy to keep him out as they sought to bring him over before the transfer officially clears.
To put this as simply as possible: It appears Araujo will officially be fully transferred to Barcelona in the summer transfer window, but the teams agreed for the player to move to Catalonia early, get settled, and then the deal will clear later this year. He appears ineligible to play for Barcelona or any of their reserve teams until the summer. From the player’s perspective, it is the most humane outcome. But for the teams, it’s effectively a handshake agreement.
And the Galaxy are without their starting right back. Expect Kelvin Leerdam to be penciled in to begin the season, and I wouldn’t be shocked if reinforcements are signed before the transfer ban for the club this summer. Best wishes to Julian, however!
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