One of the issues with the Fire has been the lack of a true ball-winning midfielder since Dax McCarty left after the 2019 season. Perhaps they solved that problem with the signing of Federico Navarro from Argentina’s Club Atlético Talleres.
The acquisition was announced Friday but came before Thursday’s MLS transfer deadline and locks in Navarro, 21, through 2025 plus a team option for 2026. The Fire didn’t release terms of the agreement, but according to Talleres the deal is for $5 million if Navarro hits certain incentives.
“Federico is a very talented defensive midfielder, who fits the demands of MLS,” sporting director Georg Heitz said in a news release. “Despite being just 21 years old, he has been a consistent starter in one of the most challenging leagues in South America. His aggressiveness and ability to cover a lot of ground quickly will add a defensive mindset and balance to our roster. We look forward to welcoming him to Chicago in the coming weeks.”
Navarro made 52 appearances for Talleres and is the Fire’s second signing under the MLS U-22 initiative, which allows teams to sign young players to expensive contracts with a reduced salary cap hit. Striker Jhon Jader Duran, who will join in 2022, was the first.
Where Navarro fits in over the rest of the 2021 season and beyond will be interesting to watch. Though the Fire currently have high-priced central midfielders Alvaro Medran and Gaston Gimenez, there are questions about whether either will be back in 2022: Medran was coy about his future during a recent Sun-Times interview, and Gimenez’s contract has a club option for next season.