By Michael Lewis Editor

Maxi Moralez, a key member of New York City FC’s 2021 MLS Cup championship team and one of the most respected players in the league, will perform his magic for another club next year.

On Friday, NYCFC announced the 35-year-old playmaking midfielder will join Racing Club in his native Argentina.

Despite his size – the 5-3, 115-lb. Moralez was the fulcrum of the Cityzens attack since he joined the team in 2017, whether he was setting up teammates or scoring goals himself.

“My family and I have decided to return Argentina, my country, after a very long time,” he said in a statement. “It was a very difficult and personal decision for me, one of the most difficult decisions in my career because of what we’ve accomplished together here. I am happy here, and from the first day the fans have made me feel like one of them. Those memories combined with this City, the best city in the world, has really made this decision extremely hard.

“Racing is where I started, they raised me, many years ago they gave me the opportunity to play professional football and be in the position I’m in today. It was a dream of mine, of my children and my family, to see me play at Racing and I’d like for it to come true for them.

“NYCFC has been six years of my life which I’ve enjoyed immensely, with so much happiness, with accomplishments and defeats, but I’ve always been so happy here playing for this Club. NYCFC is my longest tenured Club which makes me so proud because it’s a great club, in a great City and being here is like being part of one big family.”

During his six-year tenure with City, Moralez won a myriad of honors, individual or team. That included being named to the MLS all-star team, MLS Best XI or NYCFC team MVP.

Signed as the team’s fourth designated player in 2017, Moralez scored 36 goals and assisted on 60 others in 194 games across all competitions. His best season came in 2017, when the Argentine became only the third player in league history to record 20 assists in a season, hitting that mark exactly, while connecting for seven goals.

Moralez also converted a penalty kick in the shootout against the Portland Timbers in 2021, which helped lift NYCFC to its first league title. He also scored the game-winning goal in the Campeones Cup this past summer.

“I want to be remembered for the sacrifice and effort I always gave which characterizes me,” Moralez said. “At the end of the day, all the trophies and matches are forgotten, but being a good person and a good teammate is fundamental and that’s what I always tried to be,” said Moralez. “Thank you to all the fans and everyone at the club. I will always remember you, I will always remember the best of times and all the moments we have shared together, which you take with you to the grave. I’m sure we will see each other again.”

No one had to remind sporting director David Lee what NYCFC would be missing.

“It has been an absolute pleasure to have been able to get to know and work with Maxi,” he said. “No one can deny the significant impact he’s had these past six seasons, he’ll always have legendary status at the Club and amongst our fans as he has given us so many fantastic memories. As well as his unbelievable skill, he has been a true professional since day one and a role model for our young players.

“Maxi has earned his place in the history of this club. He will always be remembered in New York as an incredible player, whose presence and leadership were vital in us winning our first pieces of silverware. We understand it has always been Maxi’s dream to return to Argentina and know this has been an extremely difficult decision for him. He will be missed, but ultimately, we want what is best for him and his family.”