SANDY — Real Salt Lake midfielder Luis Gil has often been tabbed as "the next big thing" for the club signing a professional contract before his 16th birthday.
He may also be the next big transfer from the club.
Gil moved to Liga MX club Queretaro FC on a free transfer in a move first reported by Ives Galarcep of Goal.com.
Real Salt Lake confirmed the move via its Twitter account.
The 22-year-old Gil signed a three-year deal with the Mexican club that is coached by Victor Manuel Vucetich, one of the most successful coaches in Mexican soccer history.
Before his contract expired, RSL extended a Bona Fide offer to Gil, meaning the team retains his MLS rights if he returns to the league. But for now, he is headed for Mexico.
"It has always been a dream of mine to play in Liga MX and I can't wait to get started with Los Gallos Blancos," Gil said in a statement via Twitter. "I want to thank MLS and Real Salt Lake for six great years. I will always be grateful to RSL and especially Jason Kreis for bringing me in as a young player and giving me a chance."
The U.S. international finished six seasons in Salt Lake City with several solid performances, but rarely the break-through season he was (perhaps unfairly) tagged to receive as a teenage wunderkind.
The 5-foot-10, 155-pound native of Garden Grove, California, had 11 goals and nine assists in 134 games for the club as he's moved around within the RSL midfield, and even spent some games early in his career as a striker. His most productive season came in 2013, when Gil notched five goals and three assists while starting in 24 of his 30 games during RSL's 16-10-8 season that saw them finish runner-up in both the MLS Cup playoffs and U.S. Open Cup. He had just one goal and two assists in 24 games, 16 of them starts, in 2015.
In 11 postseason games over five seasons, Gil never registered a goal or an assist — though he played the majority of those games in a holding midfield-style role.
Gil also spent significant time with various levels of the U.S. national team during his tenure at RSL. The 22-year-old has been a fixture with the Yanks' Under-23 national team, scoring three goals in 10 appearances since 2011 that helped boost his senior national team stock to make two appearances beginning in 2014. Gil currently has 14 goals in 62 international appearances, the majority of which stemming from his U-17 days.
Queretaro made news in MLS circles last year when it signed the league's reigning top scorer Camilo Sanvezzo from Vancouver with a six-figure transfer fee. The Gallos Blancos also boast former U.S. international defender Jonathan Bornstein.
RSL opens the 2016 league season March 6 at Orlando City SC. The Salt Lake side opens the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals Feb. 24 at Mexico's UANL Tigres.