Minnesota United on Tuesday loaned midfielder Romario Ibarra to C.F. Pachuca in Mexico’s Liga MX.
The move positions United for more roster flexibility and salary space during upcoming MLS transfer windows. It sends Romario, 24, to a country, team and league where he might better acclimate than he did during 10 months in Minnesota.
The 13-month deal with a loan fee due United gives Pachuca the option to buy his contract at loan’s end.
Ibarra was acquired from his Universidad Catolica club in his native Ecuador in July 2018, With the Loons he scored five goals with an assist in 17 games – six of them as a starter – since then.
United Sporting Director Manny Lagos attributed Tuesday’s decision to several factors, including difficulty Ibarra had bringing his girlfriend and child with him to the United States legally and how that affected him.
A member of Ecuador’s national team, Ibarra has been used mostly in a reserve’s role this season, except when striker Angelo Rodriguez has been injured.
“He no doubt has big ambitions,” Lagos said. “This aligned with a lot of what he wanted. I also think for us as a club, we want to make sure we have guys who can be here mentally and physically. Unfortunately, he couldn’t be all here at this time of his career.”
Lagos said the transaction will allow Ibarra to play in a “different environment still with a very good club at a very good level” while also increasing United’s options in future transfer windows, starting in July.
Ibarra was signed last July to a $500,000 salary, according to salaries published last fall by MLS’ players’ association. His departure opens an international player slot and frees his salary for those upcoming windows.
“It gives us flexibility as we build into the season and the next couple windows while we try to evolve and figure out what the next pieces are for us to get better,” Lagos said.