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Marco Pappa seems destined for Wigan; would stay with Fire through 2012 season

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Marco Pappa has been rumored as a potential target for EPL club Wigan for awhile now. Those rumors picked up today thanks to Guatemalan Radio Personality Otto Daniel Galindo.

Translated that means Pappa has a pre-contract with Wigan in England and will join the team after the current MLS season. In addition, ran a piece from David Ruiz that included this paragraph summary and the full article in Spanish:

According to sources close to the English Premier League club, the Guatemalan midfielder is ready to sign a contract for four and a half seasons but only after he ends his current contract with the Fire, which is set to expire at the end of the year.

It's not a done deal but it's looking very solid. What this would mean for Marco Pappa and the Chicago Fire after the break.

Marco Pappa's Future with the Chicago Fire

Pappa would stay with the team through the 2012 Major League Soccer season. He would be with the team through the final stretch, MLS playoffs, and, knock on wood, the MLS Cup. The Guatemalan midfielder is at the top of team with 5 goals and second on the team in assists with 3. Keeping Pappa would be a big boost for Frank Klopas' squad especially with Sebastian Grazzini leaving for the foreseeable future. If you want to see the Fire win a trophy this year, this 'Wigan signs Pappa in January' would be the best outcome.

If you want to see Pappa in a Fire jersey after 2012, this is also your best outcome. The wrinkle here is that the Fire can maintain Pappa's MLS' rights if they offer him a 'qualifying offer' to sign a new deal. Go back to Chris Rolfe signing earlier this year. He signed with Chicago instead of going through the MLS Allocation Order because the Fire offered him a qualifying offer before he signed with Danish Aalborg BK in 2009. Now go back to Bakary Soumare ending up with Philadelphia earlier this year. Chicago did not have his rights anymore because they sold him to French US Boulogne in August 2009. Soumare had to go through the Allocation Order as a returning MLS player.

Is it likely Pappa will come back? It's hard to say but just look at Bakary Soumare, Chris Rolfe, and Edson Buddle. If Pappa did come back to MLS, the Fire would at least acquire something in return for his rights. Go back to Wilman Conde's rights being traded to New York earlier this year for an example of that scenario.

Related: Burnt Out-Chicago Fire Lineup in Need of Rotation Follow Hot Time In Old Town on Twitter

Lack of a Transfer Fee

As a fan, I certainly don't mind this. If anything you might want to give credit to the front office for turning down other transfer fee offers in order to keep Pappa for the rest of the season (and keep his MLS rights beyond). If Pappa signs with Wigan, some team out there would have given something to acquire Pappa through December in hopes of acclimating him to their club and signing him long-term.

International Slot Filled

With Grazzini leaving town but staying under contract and Dutchman Sherjill MacDonald coming into town reportedly on a contract, the Fire remain with one international spot too many. There was the potential of a Pappa transfer making room for MacDonald but that'd be dead with this report. The international spot should not get too much focus as a hurdle though. Earlier today, Chivas USA traded an international spot (to be used in 2013 and returned in 2014) to the Montreal Impact in exchange for journeyman defender Bobby Burling. If Burling can net an international spot, clearly the Fire could find some player or asset to acquire another international spot for their own use.

Final Thoughts

I would have been okay if Chicago took a transfer fee this month if Pappa wanted out of town as soon as possible. That would have been a blow for the Chicago Fire 2012 chances but I'd be okay with giving minutes to players who will be here in the future instead of dealing with an unhappy Pappa.

Pappa seems happy and is putting up good numbers. Now Fire fans should be able to enjoy one last run with Pappa and a competitive Chicago team down the stretch. Klopas should start to play players who can take Pappa's place in 2013 (Victor Pineda especially) but this is great news overall. Any potential for keeping Pappa's rights in the future is icing on the cake.