Chicago Fire sign Argentine midfielder Gaitan to add punch to attack

  • The Chicago Fire Thursday announced the signing of Argentina's Nicolas Gaitan, here pursing Panama's Roderick Miller during a Copa America Centenario Group D match in June 2016 at Soldier Field.

    The Chicago Fire Thursday announced the signing of Argentina's Nicolas Gaitan, here pursing Panama's Roderick Miller during a Copa America Centenario Group D match in June 2016 at Soldier Field. Associated Press

 
 

The Chicago Fire's long search for a playmaking midfielder is over.

The club announced Thursday it completed the rumored signing of Argentine central midfielder Nicolas Gaitan on a free transfer from a Chinese club. The Fire used discretionary targeted allocation money and targeted allocation money to complete the deal.

Gaitan is signed for 2019 with a club option for 2020.

"We have wanted to add another attacking piece and believe Nico's dynamism and playmaking ability could be a perfect fit," said Fire president and general manager Nelson Rodriguez.

Gaitan will be available for selection after he gets his visa and transfer certificate.

Gaitan, 31, arrives with an impressive resume that includes time at Atletico Madrid in the Spanish first division and Portuguese power Benfica, where he made 68 appearances in the UEFA Champions League. He began his career at Boca Juniors in Argentina and has 19 caps for the Argentina national team.

The Fire has beefed up its attack significantly since last season's 10th-place finish. It added winger speedy Przemyslaw Frankowski and forward C.J. Sapong to an attack that already included Lemont native Djordje Mihailovic, Nemanja Nikolic and Aleksandar Katai. Reserves Fabian Herbers, Amando Moreno and Cristian Martinez also were added this winter.

Sapong has both of the Fire's goals in its first two games, a loss and a draw. Gaitan is expected to step in and give the Fire attack an immediate boost.

"Nicolas is a player that can destabilize any defense in this league," Fire coach Veljko Paunovic said. "He has an enormous amount of talent and is still in his prime. We're eager to get the most out of his attacking creativity."

The Fire hosts the Seattle Sounders at SeatGeek Stadium at noon Saturday.

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