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Federico Navarro eager to show all-around game with Fire

“I do bring a lot to the team in terms of defense, but I think I bring a lot to help in any way I can,” Navarro said.

Federico Navarro could be a solution to a long-term Fire problem.
Courtesy of the Fire

In July, an Argentinian newspaper evaluated the performances of Club Atletico Talleres players during a recent win. Defensive midfielder Federico Navarro was given a strong 7 out of 10, with the explanation he must have three lungs because of how much ground he covered on the field.

“My hard work is what characterizes me,” Navarro told the Sun-Times through a translator. “I have heard that statement I maybe have three lungs, but really, the truth is that we train for this. We train to play at this level.”

The Fire acquired Navarro from Atletico Talleres just before the Aug. 5 transfer deadline in a deal that could be worth $5 million with incentives. Billed as an energetic, ball-winning player who’s not afraid of tough challenges in the middle of the formation, Navarro could be the type of aggressive midfielder the Fire haven’t had since they let go of former captain Dax McCarty after the 2019 season — a shortcoming that’s one of the reasons they’re on track to miss the playoffs again.

Despite his reputation, Navarro said he’ll bring more to the Fire than just aggression and stamina. If they need him to play a role, he’ll do it.

“I do bring a lot to the team in terms of defense, but I think I bring a lot to help in any way I can,” he said. “I always try to help defensively. I try to be the helping wheel for the whole team, but I’m here to do whatever is needed from me on the defensive end [or] going forward on the attack.”

Whenever Navarro makes his debut, the Fire have an idea of what to expect from him. Midfielder Gaston Gimenez, who spent much of his career in Argentina, is well aware of Navarro’s capabilities.

“I watch him play and know that he’s a player who is very aggressive,very physical,” Gimenez said through a translator earlier this month.“I think he’s going to bring a ton to our team. So we are here waiting for him to join us, and hopefully he will adapt quickly and help our team do things the right way.”

Gimenez, attacker Ignacio Aliseda (who shares an agent with Navarro)and the Fire’s other Spanish-speaking players will be keys in helping the 21-year-old Navarro adjust to his new team and country. As Navarro said, a roster with numerous South Americans should help him expedite that process.

But that doesn’t mean the adjustment will be instant. Even with teammates to support him, this is the first time Navarro will be away from his native Argentina for this long.

Despite that factor, he wants to make an impact fast.

“It’s the first time I’ve uprooted myself, but it’s a step that had to be taken,” he said. “I’m really hoping to be able to come in and adapt as quickly as possible so that I can add to the team and give it my all.”