At first, the news was stunning.

But after a while, it was understandable that New York City FC would make such a move.

The Dec. 17 trade of captain and midfielder Alex Ring to Austin FC sent shockwaves through the NYCFC Nation.

After all, he played his guts out, game after game, on both sides of the ball.

It certainly didn’t hurt he was popular with the fans and media with his play and his post-match assessments, whether it was criticizing his team or himself.

But NYCFC found itself with an offer from the 2021 Major League Soccer expansion team that it could not refuse: up to $1.25 million in the General Allocation Money deal.

Broken down, City will receive a guaranteed amount of $750,000, with $500,000 in 2021 GAM and $250,000 in 2022 GAM, and an additional $500,000 if certain performance-based incentives are met.

That money could go to new acquisitions by NYCFC.

“Alex has been one of the most important signings in our history,” NYCFC sporting director David Lee said in a statement. “He raised the level of the team from his first moment with NYCFC and has been an integral part of our club, contributing high level performances on a consistent basis over the past four seasons. With us he’s had one of the best periods of his career and it’s no coincidence that as a club, we’ve also been very consistent in the MLS Regular Season during that time.

“It’s never easy to consider losing a player of Alex’s quality, but in a salary cap league we have to make difficult decisions when finding ways to improve the team and we believe the significant offer positions us to improve the roster in 2021. Some of our younger talent in the midfield have also shown in 2020 that they are ready to take on even bigger roles and we’re looking forward to their continued development.

“We wish Alex and his family all the best in Austin and thank him for his commitment to NYCFC over the past four seasons.”

Ring, 29, already had a fan in Austin in the team’s sporting director is Claudio Reyna, who had a similar role with NYCFC.

We are very excited to add Alex to our squad. He is a highly regarded MLS player who can play in multiple positions,” Reyna said in a statement. “He has been a key piece in one of the best MLS teams in the last four to five years. He sets a high standard in training and is someone who is a top professional. Alex will be a great addition to our club.”

In a NYCFC press release, Ring said this about his four-year tenure with the club: “It’s a difficult moment for me to be leaving a club and a city that has given me a lot over the past four seasons. It’s truly been a special part of my career and I can’t thank the players, coaches and front office enough for the support they provided myself and my family since coming to New York in 2017.

“To the supporters, you are amazing. As players, we play for you and I’ll miss each and every one of you. It was an honor to captain your Club and I gave everything I had each game. You deserve a lot and I hope my time here met the expectations you have for all those who wear the City blue shirt.

“While I’m looking forward to the next chapter in my career, I leave with only good memories of New York and will cherish them for the rest of my life.”

Ring joined City in 2017 and experienced four of his best years as a professional. The former Finnish international appeared in 120 MLS matches, recording 10 goals and 13 assists. He was selected for the 2018 MLS All-Star Game during a season that cemented his status as one of the league’s best midfielders.

He was named captain prior to the 2019 season. He helped lead NYCFC to a club-record 64 points as the team finished first place in the Eastern Conference. The latter feat qualified the team to the Concacaf Champions League for the first time in club history.

Ring is second on the club’s all-time appearance list behind goalkeeper Sean Johnson and having played more than 10,000 regular season minutes.