Just after the start of the MLS season, D.C. United has added to their midfield, acquiring central midfielder Mohammed Abu from Norwegian side Vålerenga. The 28-year-old Ghanaian arrives on a one-year loan with an option to make the move permanent. Further terms were not disclosed, though The Athletic’s Pablo Maurer has reported that Abu will be on an MLS senior roster minimum salary in 2020, and that there are option years on the table if Abu makes a permanent move.
Abu has spent most of his career loaned out to various teams, mostly due to Manchester City’s methods of prospecting for talent. After being signed by the English giants in 2010, Abu was loaned out six times, landing at five different clubs in five different countries. Two loans to Strømsgodset indicated where his future lay, and once his Man City deal ended, the Norwegian side made a permanent move for him.
After three seasons there, Abu moved on to the Columbus Crew, where he made 20 appearances in 2017, battling with Artur to partner Wil Trapp in the two defensive midfield spots. In 2018, the Crew opted to go with Artur, and after making a few early-season appearances off the bench, Abu went back to Norway on loan, this time to Vålerenga. After two years, though, coach Dag-Eilev Fagermo is reported to have told Abu that he was no longer in his plans, prompting today’s move.
Abu, who has 6 caps for Ghana, figures to add depth to one of the more secure areas of United’s roster. With Russell Canouse, Junior Moreno, and Felipe all in place, and homegrown midfielder Moses Nyeman looking solid in preseason, defensive midfield is not necessarily an area of need for the Black-and-Red.
However, with Canouse slated to spend at least the early weeks of the season filling in at right back, Abu may still have a path to playing time. United’s push to become a more possession-oriented team may also help, as Abu’s time in Columbus proved that he’s a very reliable facilitator for a team that wants to have control of the ball.
Following Erik Sorga’s move from having a deal with Loudoun to one with D.C. and yesterday’s signing of veteran playmaker Federico Higuain, United now has 25 players on their active roster.