Sporting Kansas City announced Thursday that the club has acquired 28-year-old Spanish midfielder Cristian Lobato in a transfer from Spanish side Gimnastic de Tarragona. Lobato has signed an MLS contract through 2018 with an option for 2019.
Pending receipt of his International Transfer Certificate and P-1 visa, Lobato will be added to the Sporting Kansas City roster and occupy an international roster spot when Major League Soccer’s Secondary Transfer Window opens on July 10.
In addition, Sporting Kansas City has waived defender Igor Juliao. The 22-year-old right back started one match for Sporting KC this season while on loan from Brazilian club Fluminense.
“We’re extremely excited to be able to add Cristian to the roster,” Sporting KC Manager Peter Vermes said. “He is a versatile player who can play multiple positions in the midfield and across the front three. We weren’t sure if we would be able to add Cristian in this coming window, but our player personnel department did a fantastic job to solidify this acquisition. We look forward to seeing Cristian join our squad and help us pursue our goals this season.”
Lobato has made more than 150 professional appearances since 2008, including a two-year stint at FC Barcelona B where he was teammates with current Sporting KC midfielder Ilie from 2011-2013. The midfielder — who can also play as a winger or outside back — spent four years at FC Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy before ending his youth career at Spanish outfit CE L’Hospitalet.
Lobato earned his senior team debut for Hospitalet in 2008 and played over 80 league matches across three seasons, notably helping the club win a Tercera Division title in 2009-10 and promotion to the Segunda Division B. He then joined Ilie at FC Barcelona B of the Segunda Division, scoring eight goals in 57 games. Lobato’s two-year spell at FC Barcelona included a preseason appearance for the senior team in July 2011, where he was in the same squad as Spanish internationals Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets and David Villa.
In February 2014, Lobato made his top-flight debut for CA Osasuna and ended the 2013-14 La Liga campaign with 12 appearances. He then left Spain for the first time, helping Asteras Tripoli to a fourth-place finish in the 2014-15 Superleague Greece.
A return to Spain saw Lobato join Gimnastic, where he has spent each of the last two seasons in the Segunda Division. He played 49 matches for the club across all competitions as Gimnastic nearly earned promotion to La Liga with a third-place finish in 2015-16.
Transaction: Sporting Kansas City (MLS) acquires winger Cristian Lobato in a transfer from Gimnastic de Tarragona (Spain) and waives defender Igor Juliao.
Cristian Lobato (loh-BAH-toe)
Born: 3/7/1989 (28 years old)
Weight: 160 lbs
Hometown: Barcelona, Spain
Birthplace: Esparreguera, Spain
Previous club: Gimnastic de Tarragona (Spain)