Hany Mukhtar: “I wanted to stay here”

NASHVILLE, TN – Hany Mukhtar is here to stay.

The German attacker, one of Major League Soccer’s brightest stars and the face of Nashville SC, signed a new long-term deal which will keep him in Music City through 2026, with a further option for 2027. Announced two weeks before his 29th birthday, the contract keeps Mukhtar in Nashville until he turns 32, locking down his future and giving Nashville stability.

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“My thought was always to stay here for longer and I think that’s what I wanted,” Mukhtar told reporters after a 2-2 draw against Inter Miami on Thursday. “I wanted to stay here. I want it to to sign a new deal and I’m super happy that we could figure it out. And yeah, good things are coming.”

The contract ends months of speculation about Mukhtar’s future. After winning MLS’s MVP award in 2022, Mukhtar was a target of the Qatari Stars League, who offered Nashville a multi-million dollar transfer fee last summer. Nashville rejected the offer, clearly never interested in selling their star player and the centerpiece of their team.

Mukhtar never wanted to leave himself. But after three seasons as one of, if not the, best attacker in MLS, 15 players were paid more than him. None of those players scored more than Mukhtar in 2023. Only one, Minnesota’s Teemu Pukki, scored and assisted more per game than Mukhtar.

Frustration and distraction over the Qatari transfer bid and the appearance of being undervalued by Nashville led to a second half slump that saw Mukhtar score just twice in 12 league matches after their run to the Leagues Cup final. The entire team suffered; they won twice and scored just eight goals.

“Our talisman and individual who has really dragged this team along in terms of goals for a long, long time has not been anywhere near as effective,” head coach Gary Smith said after the season-ending playoff loss to Orlando. “I don’t know the reason for that. We’d have to go back even further than that probably, to maybe even conversations about Qatar. It sends people off kilter a little bit.”

“Obviously the challenges during the summer were distracting for him. I think it affected his performance,” General Manager Mike Jacobs told reporters yesterday after announcing the new contract. “We’re doubling down on who he is. We believe in his abilities and what he can bring to our team in general, and the idea of adding on multiple years to lock him up for essentially throughout the prime of his career.”

It’s a no-brainer for Nashville, not only to secure the cornerstone of their club for the foreseeable future, but to remove all distractions and frustration from Mukhtar’s plate and allow him to simply focus on soccer.

“Hany is the most valuable player in our league, and you can see the influence he has in our team,” Jacobs said. “When he’s played well, we’re good. When he’s not, you know, we struggle… knowing that he is secure being here, we can go and work on the rest of our football program as well.”

The numbers don’t lie. 113 appearances. 58 goals. 38 assists. 56% of Nashville’s entire attacking output has gone through Mukhtar. This team has lived and died with Mukhtar. This team has grown with Mukhtar. And with the right additions, this team’s best chance at silverware will be because of Mukhtar.

Signing Hany Mukhtar to a new long-term contract was an obvious win for Nashville SC, Mukhtar, and all of Music City. The only question now is where they’ll put his statue.

Author: Ben Wrightis the Director of Soccer Content and a Senior MLS Contributor for Broadway Sports covering Nashville SC and the US National Team. Previously Ben was the editor and a founder of Speedway Soccer, where he has covered Nashville SC and their time in USL before journeying to Major League Soccer since 2018. Raised in Louisville, KY Ben grew up playing before a knee injury ended his competitive career. When he is not talking soccer he is probably producing music, drinking coffee or hanging out with his wife and kids. Mastodon

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