The pursuit of Wigan Athletic and Scotland midfielder Shaun Maloney could come to a happy conclusion for the Fire very soon.
Wigan manager Malky Mackay told BBC Radio Manchester on Friday that a fee for Maloney, who turns 32 on Saturday, has been agreed to between the Fire and the second-division club. Maloney and the Fire have already agreed to terms for a contract that would make him their third Designated Player signing of the offseason, joining David Accam and Kennedy Igboananike.
“We’ve agreed terms with Chicago Fire for Shaun to leave imminently, so that is something that is going to be happening in the next day or so,” Mackay said Friday.
“There’s a financial situation and I’m respectful of the club’s position – I’ve got to be prudent in terms of the saving that we will make on Shaun’s wages and the transfer fee that can then be put to other things.”
It’s possible Maloney could be on the field when the Fire open training camp Monday morning in Bridgeview. And if that happens it would be the best possible outcome for the Fire, whose interest in Maloney has been public since November.
Mackay was recently quoted by the Wigan website as saying that any deal between the Fire and Maloney would come this summer after the midfielder’s contract expired. That stance, however, has softened and the Fire have been adamant they wanted Maloney to join them as quickly as possible.
Frequently this offseason, Fire coach Frank Yallop has said the Fire “want to hit the ground running.” Getting Maloney now or very soon would help accomplish that, and it appears they’re going to get what they want.
“Shaun’s head is somewhere else. He wants to go and try something new in his life and you’ve seen that with the chance to go to Chicago,” Mackay said in a video posted Friday by Wigan, which is five points from avoiding relegation to the third tier of English soccer. “He was hoping it was going to happen now as opposed to the end of the season and Chicago ended up coming to us with a deal that allowed that to happen. Otherwise he would have been here.”
Earlier this month it looked like Maloney would join Leicester City but he and the English Premier League team couldn’t come to personal terms, keeping the Fire’s pursuit alive. Beyond Leicester, that chase survived interest from a host of EPL clubs and Scottish giants Celtic, though the Fire maintained confidence they would land Maloney.
It looks like that confidence and effort will be rewarded.
NOTE: The Fire on Friday announced the addition of three trialists to their training camp roster: goalkeeper Mark Pais and defenders Bryan Gaul and Joachim De Wilde.