LAFC center-back Laurent Ciman has left the club less than a year after moving to Los Angeles to transfer to French club Dijon.
Ciman, 33, signed a two-year contract with the Ligue 1 team. LAFC will receive a transfer fee of around $500,000, a source told ESPN FC.
Ciman’s deal with LAFC was set to expire at the end of the MLS season this winter, and he thanked the club for allowing him to leave.
“As you may have heard, we are leaving L.A. for France,” Ciman wrote on social media on Tuesday. “I want to thank LAFC fans for embracing me, supporting me, and making me feel like family in ways that exceeded my every expectation. I’ll always keep LAFC fans in my heart.
“The club put the best interests of me and my family above their own, which is rare in today’s sports world. The organization allowed me the chance to return to Europe and continue playing at a high level with a deal providing long-term security for my family.
“To LAFC fans and the organization, my gratitude and love forever. I’ve been honored to be your first captain, to have scored our first goal at Banc of California Stadium and to be a part of the LAFC family.”
Ciman provided a critical presence in the center of LAFC’s defense as well as on set pieces. The MLS club will now rely heavily on center-back Danilo Silva — who was recently acquired on loan from Brazilian side Internacional — to partner Walker Zimmerman in defense with Dejan Jakovic backing them up.
Ciman was left out of Friday’s 1-1 draw with the LA Galaxy because the player was not “fully focused” amid persistent transfer rumors, manager Bob Bradley said.
“Laurent has played an important role getting us started in our first season at LAFC,” Bradley said in the team’s statement. “He has given a lot to this club and we will always appreciate his passion, leadership and strong play.”
LAFC acquired Ciman from the Montreal Impact last December in a trade for expansion draft picks Jukka Raitala and Raheem Edwards, whom they’d picked up just hours before making the move for Ciman.
Ciman, the MLS defender of the year in 2015, helped Belgium qualify for the World Cup, although he was left off the final squad that eventually finished third in Russia this summer.
He started his professional career at Belgium’s RSC Charleroi before stints at Club Brugge, KV Kortrijk and Standard Liege before moving to MLS with Montreal in 2015.