Venezuelan striker Fernando Aristeguieta will not return to the Union for the 2016 season.
A source with direct knowledge of the situation confirmed the news to me Monday night.
The Union acquired Aristeguieta on loan from French club Nantes in February of last year in the hopes that he would solve their longtime scoring woes. Originally, the then-22-year-old came on a six-month loan. That deal was extended in July to cover the full 2015 Major League Soccer season.
He earned $350,000, according to salary data provided by the MLS Players Union. That salary, combined with his young age, earned him Designated Player status under the league's complex roster rules.
Early in the campaign, Aristeguieta lived up to the hype. He used his 6-foot-2 frame and strong work ethic to score three goals in the Union's first five games. But a series of nagging injuries kept him off the field for almost all of June and July. He made one start in August amid a series of appearances as a substitute, and didn't play a full 90 minutes until late September.
In all, Aristeguieta scored five goals in 21 league appearances. He also scored the winning penalty kick in the Union's quarterfinal win over the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena.
Whether or not he ultimately was able to prove his full worth to the Union, Aristeguieta's odds of staying with the team weren't helped by the prospect of a significant increase in salary for this year. Add to that a potential transfer fee payment to Nantes, and the expense would have been significant.
Aristeguieta seemed to know that the writing was on the wall. He was not present as the Union began preseason training camp this week, instead remaining at his offseason home in France.
French newspaper L'Equipe reported Monday that Nantes will loan him to second-division Parisian club Red Star for the remainder of the European season. Aristeguieta confirmed the move himself Tuesday morning, and offered a farewell message to Union fans: