Loons working to send forward Adrien Hunou back to France

John Autey/Pioneer Press/TNS
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Minnesota United is working to offload high-priced forward Adrien Hunou.

The Loons have been drawing up paperwork to move the underwhelming Frenchman back to his native Ligue 1 with Angers and it might be approved yet this week, the Pioneer Press learned Thursday. It’s unclear the exact nature of the transaction will take: a loan; a loan with purchase requirement/purchase option; or a full transfer.

Translated reports out of France on Thursday had the deal in the form of a loan with an option to buy. Hunou was not present for training in Blaine on Thursday and might leave the U.S. as soon as Friday. The Loons play at Inter Miami on Saturday night.

Hunou arrived in Minnesota on a transfer fee north of $3 million from Rennes in Ligue 1 last season and his guaranteed salary was listed at $2.68 million for 2022, per the MLS Players Association figures. The 28-year-old did not live up to his place at atop the Loons’ payroll; he has no goals or assists in 128 minutes across nine matches this season.

Hunou’s playing time was drastically scaled back, with striker Luis Amarilla and converted right winger Robin Lod preferred in the No. 9 position by manager Adrian Heath. Hunou also was down the list of substitute options this season.

The Loons are looking to free up salary space and one of three Designated Player spots going into the summer transfer window in July and August. If the move goes through, MNUFC would have three senior roster spots and two international slots available.

Possible attacking additions are on the Loons’ target list for this summer.

Hunou expressed some frustration over the lack of minutes but remained professional as his playing time dried up. He requested and played for MNUFC2, the club’s new developmental team, and he featured in the Loons’ games in the U.S. Open Cup run, scoring two goals against lower-level competition.

This deal would end Hunou’s tenure in Minnesota halfway through a three-year contract, which included a club option for 2024. MNUFC has remaining payments due on Hunou’s transfer fee.

Hunou arrived in May 2021 and scored seven goals in 1,707 MLS minutes last season but was one of MLS’ biggest underperforming scorers compared to his expected goals (10.2), per fbref.com.

MNUFC pursued Hunou since 2020, and he scored 26 goals in 6,160 minutes for Rennes. He averaged 0.38 goals per 90 minute for Rennes and 0.34 for Minnesota.

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