Nashville SC have signed defender Walker Zimmerman to a Designated Player contract, as well as extending Hany Mukhtar’s deal, the club announced Friday morning. Both players are signed through the 2025 season.
Zimmerman, 28, was signed from LAFC for a league record $1.1 million ahead of Nashville’s inaugural season in Major League Soccer, and has won the MLS Defender of the Year award in his two seasons with Music City.
Since joining Nashville in 2020, Zimmerman has made 60 appearances, leading the club to 24 clean sheets, the second-best mark in MLS in that time period. Nashville have qualified for the playoffs in both of their seasons in MLS, a historic record for an expansion club.
Zimmerman has also become increasingly effective for the US Men’s National Team. Since joining Nashville, Zimmerman has made 17 caps for the USMNT. In the final round of World Cup qualifying, he appeared 17 times, starting eight matches and captaining the side three times. Zimmerman was a crucial part of the USMNT’s World Cup qualification, forming a formidable partnership with Atlanta United defender Miles Robinson.
From a Nashville perspective, it makes sense to lock up the reigning Defender of the Year and an MLS Best XI mainstay, especially with the World Cup on the horizon. Nashville ensure that he’ll stay in Nashville long term, or command a hefty transfer fee if he leaves. With Designated Player production not always a guarantee, Nashville opted to use their final DP spot on a sure thing.
Mukhtar, 27, was the first Designated Player in club history. The runner up in the MLS Landon Donovan MVP award and a Best XI selection in 2021, his 16 goals and 12 assists were the most combined goals and assists in the league. Signing him to a new deal rewards one of the most exciting attacking players in the league and ensures that the centerpiece of Nashville’s attack will stay in Music City for the long term.