Columbus Crew, Lucas Zelarayan agree to new Designated Player deal

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The Columbus Crew signed attacking midfielder Lucas Zelarayan to a new three-year contract that will keep him with the team through at least 2024, the team announced on Thursday.

The Designated Player deal also contains a club option for 2025.

Zelarayan, 29, spent the last two seasons with the Crew, leading Columbus to the 2020 MLS Cup title -- a match in which he was named MVP -- and winning that season's Newcomer of the Year award. In 53 appearances across all competitions, he scored 21 goals and added 19 assists.

"Over the past two seasons Lucas has proven himself to be one of the top game-changers in MLS and we are excited to sign him to a new contract," Crew general manager Tim Bezbatchenko said in a statement. "Lucas has proven that he can perform under pressure, and he shines time and time again when the spotlight is brightest. We look forward to seeing what else Lucas and the team can achieve together in 2022 and beyond."

A native of Cordoba, Argentina, Zelarayan rose through the ranks of Belgrano's academy all the way to the first team, making his debut as a 19-year-old in 2012. He went on to make 81 league and cup appearances, scoring 10 goals.

In 2016, Zelarayan moved to Liga MX side Tigres UANL. He went on to make 140 league and cup appearances, scoring 23 goals, and leading Tigres to three Liga MX crowns and three Campeon de Campeones titles.

At the international level, Zelarayan qualified for Armenian citizenship through his father, and has earned four caps for the Armenia national team, making his debut in October of 2021 against Iceland in a UEFA group-stage match for FIFA World Cup qualification.