Colorado Rapids decline transfer option on U22 Initiative defender Lucas Esteves, Brazilian will return to Palmeiras


The Colorado Rapids passed up on a significant deadline Thursday, and with it, an up-and-coming defender will return to Brazil.

The Rapids declined the option to permanently acquire 22-year-old left back Lucas Esteves from Brazilian giants Palmerias, and Esteves will return to the city of São Paulo. Colorado retained his MLS rights on Nov. 22 in the second stage of the MLS Re-Entry Draft and had until a Dec. 1 to negotiate a transfer deal, and while the Rapids continued to push, ultimately the parties could not come to terms.

During negotiations, the Brazilian side wanted the Rapids to pay an expected transfer fee of $1 million along with a 50% sell-on clause but Colorado declined, according to previous reports. According to MLS Players’ Association data, Esteves had a guaranteed salary of $426,092 in 2022.

Esteves made 47 appearances for Colorado since arriving in the summer of 2021 as the team’s first international U22 Initiative signing and had his loan extended through the end of the 2022 campaign in summer. In 2022, he was a dynamic element on the attacking end and indicated he wanted to stay in the summer.

Esteves told The Post in July that he had settled in nicely in Colorado.

“It’s very important for me to be here this year, I was very happy because it means (the club) trust in my work,” he said. “I want to give back for the rest of the year with the biggest commitment possible.”

A team official confirmed the Rapids will get a fresh U22 Initiative slot, which incentivizes acquiring promising prospects for a fraction of the cap space. Midfielder Max Alves and defender Gustavo Vallecilla, both of whom arrived in 2022, occupy the other two slots.


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