Ian Ayre made a promise three years ago in an interview on the MLS Extratime podcast.
“We would expect to be in the upper quarter of MLS in terms of investment in the squad. [John Ingram] wants to build a team to compete, not just to take part. We’re not going to assemble just an average roster, but a roster that can deliver in every sense on the pitch, a team that can have a real go, that our fans can get excited about.”Ian Ayre on MLS’s Extratime podcast (February 22, 2019)
Yesterday, the club delivered on that promise.
Nashville SC officially unveiled Aké Loba as the club’s newest Designated Player (DP). The reported transfer fee of $6.8 million shatters the previous reported club record of $2.9 million paid to Brøndby for Hany Muhktar in 2019. At nearly 7 million paid, Nashville’s acquisition of Loba ranks in the top 25 for most expensive MLS transfers of all time according to Transfermarkt.
We know that prior to the move that Nashville sat middle of the pack in MLS spending. Adding striker Aké Loba as a DP bumps Nashville’s roster spend ahead of the likes Portland and Seattle and likely just behind Sporting Kansas City. These perennial playoff contenders are the clubs that Nashville always needed to emulate.
Beyond Loba, Nashville’s ownership has repeatedly demonstrated a willingness to spend to bring a high-quality soccer experience to Tennessee. After all, investment is not measured just in player salaries and transfer fees. Investment is measured in a state-of-the-art training facility to be completed next year in Antioch. Investment is measured in building out a residential academy that will eventually create a pipeline to the first team. And investment is measured in increasing the club’s contribution to building out infrastructure around the Wedgewood-Houston stadium site, rather than throwing in the towel as did Sacramento’s principal owner.
It is no longer an open question. I must give credit where credit is due. Personally, I harbored a lot of doubts about ownership’s willingness to spend in the early days. But, spending big money on Aké Loba provided the final data point needed to answer any concerns about ownership’s willingness to compete at all levels. Ingram is serious about investing in this club and the future of Nashville SC. He has delivered on the promise made on his behalf by Ayre three years ago.