Chicago Fire continues busy week by signing Medrán
Just two days after Bastian Schweinsteiger announced his retirement, the Chicago Fire said Thursday it has signed Spanish central midfielder Álvaro Medrán.
Medrán, 25, has played in Spain the last five seasons, most recently Valencia. He also came up through the Real Madrid system.
The Fire used Targeted Allocation Money to sign him.
Medrán is under contract to the Fire through 2021, with club options for 2022 and 2023.
"Álvaro is a player who was developed in Real Madrid's youth system, graduating to play for the first team with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Luka Modric," said Fire president and general manager Nelson Rodríguez in a club news release. "He had offers from other clubs and we're proud that he chose the Fire. Alvaro was at the Soldier Field announcement and immediately fell in love with the stadium and our fans. We welcome Álvaro to the Fire Family."
It's been a busy week for the Fire, which also held a news conference Tuesday at Soldier Field to confirm its move there for the next three seasons.
Medrán's signing seems to indicate that new club owner Joe Mansueto will keep Rodriguez and coach Veljko Paunovic around to see the Fire play at Soldier Field in March. Under Rodriguez and Paunovic the past four seasons, the Fire has just one playoff appearance, a 2017 4-0 home loss. The Fire is 41-58-37 in that time.
The Fire was 10-12-12 and placed eighth in the Eastern Conference this season, which ended for the club Sunday. The Fire finished last in MLS in attendance this season.
Medrán made 91 appearances the last five seasons in Spain, scoring 11 goals.
"I've known Álvaro since his time with Real Madrid and I've always enjoyed his style of play," said Paunovic, who also played in Spain. "Every team in the league is looking for a player like Álvaro. He's a player that has experience but is still young and in his prime. He was developed at one of the best teams in the world and wants to come here and give his best.
"He also fits our style very well. He's capable of scoring goals, assisting, keeping the ball and has a high tactical understanding. We can't wait to start working with him."
Medrán and Schweinsteiger represent the first roster moves in what's expected to be a busy off-season for the Fire. The Fire has a contract option on designated player Aleksandar Katai, but he seems likely to leave the club after being demoted to a second-half substitute at the end of the season. Forward Nemanja Nikolic is out of contract also.
Along with Schweinsteiger, they filled the Fire's three DP slots, as well as three international roster slots.
Medrán is likely to fill the on-field role of March acquisition Nico Gaitan, who seems destined to return to Argentina. Gaitan also was a TAM signing who also filled an international slot.