As Hot Time reported more than two weeks ago, the Chicago Fire today announced the acquisition of Real Valladolid midfielder Víctor Pérez Alonso on a loan deal. The 27-year-old from Albacete, Spain - a product of the Real Madrid academy system - is already in town practicing with the club.
"We're pleased that we are able to have Victor join us in Chicago," said Fire Head Coach and Director of Soccer Frank Yallop to chicago-fire.com. "He is a dynamic midfielder and fills a postion where we were looking for added depth. The loan is a great opportunity for us to bring in a quality player in the early portion of the season and when the time comes, evaluate our options in regards to extending his stay with the Fire."
Yallop's canned quote rather underplays Pérez's potential impact. The Fire have struggled to acclimate to a style that keeps the ball, partially because none of the candidates for his position are truly adept at the subtle movements and touches that make possession through the middle of the park a reality. In Pérez, it's possible that Harrison Shipp, Michael Stephens and Shaun Maloney have found the defensive midfielder who can make their intricate patterns work.
It's that last bit of that quote where the potential roster intrigue comes in: "... when the time comes, evaluate our options ...". Pérez, by reputation and salary, would be a max-salary or greater in MLS, and the Fire have little cap space and zero Designated Player slots available. What they do have is a seemingly out-of-sorts DP striker - Kennedy Igboananike - who's shown little to this point. Could the Fire already be lining up an exit plan for another DP striker?
Consider Yallop's quotes on Tuesday - as captured here by Guillermo Rivera of Fire Confidential - which seem to speak to this possibility: "You can't click your fingers and it's going to happen. You're going to have some bad results, you're going to come up against some adversity. Hopefully this is our spell to get over them early and get our team going and get our team moving. I'm pleased with who we've added. Some guys work out, some don't. We'll figure that out in June."
Sounds like the clock is ticking on Kennedy Igboananike's American adventure already. And, frankly, if Pérez's inclusion makes the midfield purr, it won't matter much what Igbo does; there are needs, and there are needs.