(Photo courtesy of Nashville SC)

It was Nashville’s worst kept secret.

Nashville SC officially announced on Wednesday the record-setting $6.8 million acquisition of forward Ake Loba from C.F. Monterrey of Liga MX, a player the club had been linked to for quite some time.

Loba will be with Nashville on loan through the 2023 MLS season as a designated player with an option to extend the loan through 2024. To facilitate the acquisition, NSC traded $230,000 in general allocation money to the Portland Timbers in exchange for an international roster spot.

“Aké is an exciting attacking prospect that offers the qualities that our team looks for in a striker,” Nashville SC General Manager Mike Jacobs said in a release. “He is a constant goal threat and has the ability to create and finish in a number of ways. We are excited to be able to add him to this group, and about what he represents for our club.”

Loba, who joins Hany Mukhtar and Jhonder Cadiz (also on loan) as the club’s third DP, is free to join Nashville once his international transfer certificate and P1 visa are completed. He is expected to be available for selection for Thursday’s game against Atlanta United at Nissan Stadium.

Nashville’s pursuit of Loba has been well documented since before the franchise's inaugural MLS season last year. The club tried to sign the 23-year-old Ivorian forward in 2019, reportedly bidding between $5 million and $7 million for his services, but was outbid by C.F. Monterrey, which came in with a $9 million offer.

Loba tallied six goals in 21 Liga MX appearances with Monterrey over the last two years. The 5-foot-9 striker's arrival gives Nashville a more, than otherwise, well-rounded, highly-skilled attacker group, which includes Cadiz, C.J. Sapong, Daniel Rios, Dom Badji and Abu Danladi.

In 34 matches on loan with Queretaro FC — also in Liga MX — from 2018-2020, Loba scored nine goals and three assists. He added 18 goals and five assists in 32 appearances with Peruvian club Universidad San Martin in 2018. And he has one goal and four caps for the Ivory Coast U20 Men’s National Team.

Follow Michael Gallagher on Twitter @MGsports_

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