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Portland Timbers targeting Justin Meram from Columbus - sources

Ahead of Columbus' clash with Philly, coach Gregg Berhalter shares his confusion for why Justin Meram isn't an MLS all-star.
Justin Meram stresses the importance of Columbus starting the second half of the season by picking up crucial home wins.

The Portland Timbers are in pursuit of Columbus Crew midfielder Justin Meram, multiple sources confirmed to ESPN FC.

MLSSoccer.com was the first to report the Timbers' interest in Meram, which has been percolating ever since Portland traded Darlington Nagbe to Atlanta United back in December for $1.05 million in allocation money with another $600,000 possibly heading to the Timbers if certain incentives are reached.

The possible addition of Meram would create something of a logjam in attack for Portland. The interest in Meram comes just as Portland are set to sign former Morelia winger Andy Polo to a deal with a total outlay of salary and transfer fee of $3 million over three years.

With the likes of Sebastian Blanco, Fanendo Adi, and reigning league MVP Diego Valeri all on the books, the competition for places would be intense.

But Meram's production over the last several seasons for Columbus has been impressive. In 2017, Meram scored 13 goals while adding seven assists. In the year prior to that he was more of a provider, scoring five goals but adding 13 assists. All told, in 200 league and cup appearances with the Crew, Meram has scored 40 goals along with 35 assists.

All of this assumes that Portland will meet Columbus' asking price.

"We have to get the value that we expect if something would be done," said Crew manager Gregg Berhalter in reference to both Meram and forward Ola Kamara, who has been linked to the Colorado Rapids and LA Galaxy. "If that doesn't happen we're not going to do a deal. For us it's pretty straightforward."

Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreyCarlisle.

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