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When Yura Movsisyan walked into Craig Waibel's office two months ago, Real Salt Lake's general manager knew immediately there would be no wasting of words. The RSL forward said he didn't want to wait any longer to secure his long-term future at the club.
The one-year loan deal from Russia's Spartak Moscow was set to expire at the end of 2016, and Movsisyan wanted a clearer view of what was on his horizon before the uncertainties of the offseason.
"This is where I want to be," Movsisyan told Waibel.
After nearly a year of negotiations, the 29-year-old striker will remain at RSL for a while. The club finalized the outright purchase of the Armenian goal-scorer from Spartak Moscow to be the centerpiece of its attack for years to come. Movsisyan's new deal at RSL is a multiyear contract including a club option. He will remain one of RSL's three Designated Players alongside fellow forwards Burrito Martinez and Joao Plata.
"I knew from Day 1 that I wanted to make this a permanent move," Movsisyan told The Salt Lake Tribune. "I didn't want to wait until December, because I wanted to get this thing done and squared away."
With fourth-place RSL on the prowl for another MLS Cup postseason appearance, Movsisyan didn't want his mind drifting during the stretch run of the season. Avoiding a distraction in a contract year was key for the striker with nine goals and three assists in 24 starts in 2016. That one-on-one meeting left an impact on Waibel, who first targeted Movsisyan's return to Major League Soccer from Russia in early 2015.
"When you target a player, you want to make sure they have effective years left," Waibel said. "When you make a Designated Player investment, you want to make sure they have multiple years left. System-wise, this is a guy who fits."
Movsisyan, who left RSL in 2009 after helping the club win its first and only MLS Cup title, has adjusted to life back in MLS after starring Denmark and later Russia. Flanked by Martinez and Plata in RSL's 4-3-3 attack, Movsisyan has the ability to occupy multiple defenders allowing the dynamic trio to often flow as one of the best in the league. RSL is 9-2-7 when that front-line starts this season and have combined for 25 goals and 17 assists.
Waibel said Movsisyan's new deal allows RSL to "establish a clearer identity up top again for us" after the club parted ways with the team's aging all-time leading scorer Alvaro Saborio last summer in a trade to D.C. United.
"This is a building-block as well as an assurance that we have a quality goal-scoring striker up there," Waibel said.
Movsisyan's swift adaptation back to his old club and league allowed RSL owner Dell Loy Hansen to feel comfortable making another high-profile offensive acquisition, Waibel said.
"I can't speak on behalf of all the GMs in the league, but I think any time you're looking at an investment the size of a Designated Player regardless of what the name is you want to make sure you're right," he said. "I don't want it to get lost that Dell Loy's more than happy to make the investments, as long as it's the correct investment."
Patrick McCabe, Movsisyan's agent, said the push to finalize the new deal at RSL started in early August. McCabe credited RSL's front office, the MLS league office and Spartak Moscow for handling the sudden timeliness of such a substantial move.
"A lot of people pushing in the right direction," he said.
That direction ultimately led to Movsisyan staying in Utah, where he said he's elated to lay down more permanent roots with his wife and three young children. Salt Lake City's pace is the "complete opposite" to the bright lights of Moscow's banner soccer club. The family, he says, feels comfortable here for the long haul.
"He really had a will to come to Salt Lake, and Salt Lake only," McCabe said.
With his outlook now less hazy, Movsisyan understands his place as part of RSL's evolving core group. The club was in the early stage of forming an identity during his first go-round with RSL before departing for Europe seven years ago, he said. Now that he's officially back, he hopes to be the latest name such as Beckerman, Rimando or Morales, all of which are synonymous with his organization.
"It gives me a lot of motivation to know that people have so much trust in you to, to be investing in you to be a face of the franchise," he said. "I take that with a lot of pride. I take that with a lot of joy."
About Yura Movsisyan
Position • Center forward
Age • 29 Hometown • Pasadena, Calif.
New deal • RSL finalized outright purchase from Spartak Moscow and new a multiyear contract.
Reacquired • RSL completed one-year loan for Movsisyan's return in January.
Résumé • Kansas City Wizard (2006-07), Real Salt Lake (2007-09), Randers FC (2010-11), FC Krasnodar (2011-12), Spartak Moscow (2012-16), RSL (on loan in 2016).
Proven goal-scorer • Has nine goals and three assists in 27 league games for RSL this season. Scored 25 goals in 62 matches in four seasons at Spartak Moscow.