The Chicago Fire continue to target young, international defenders as the club appears set to sign FC Groningen defender Johan Kappelhof.
The FC Groningen website is claiming the club has reached an agreement with the Fire on the transfer of the 25-year-old Dutch international. Kappelhof, who is also half Ghanaian, scored three goals in 123 appearances for FC Groningen over a five-year span, playing a pivotal role in the club's 2015 KNVB Cup triumph. The tournament is Netherlands' equivalent of the FA Cup in England.
Additionally, Kappelhof has youth experience in Ajax, one of Netherlands' most successful clubs, and has made five appearances for the Under-21 Dutch national team. FC Groningen had moderate success during his time there, finishing as high as fifth in the domestic league and appearing in the Europa League twice, including this season's group stage.
Though the Fire have yet to confirm the transfer, the potential move seems like a smart gamble. Instead of targeting older, big-name internationals like Nemanja Vidic -- who announced his retirement Friday -- the club seems to be doing its homework on potential undiscovered talent.
While general manager Nelson Rodriguez has stated the goal is to bring in three European center backs, it is not a guarantee Kappelhof would play centrally. At 5' 11" and 154 pounds, he is significantly smaller than fellow Fire signing Joao Meira, who stands 6' 1" and 170 pounds. A glance at some of Kappelhof's highlights shows the defender can play right back as well as center back.
Should the Fire end up signing Kappelhof, it will be interesting to see where Veljko Paunovic envisions the Dutch defender.
With two international defenders now likely signed, Polish international Marcin Kaminski could be the main focus. Kaminski has the most impressive resume of the three and was always a lofty target for the club. With interest from Champions League clubs and Kaminski's recent appearances with Lech Poznan, his signing may not happen.
What do you think of the potential signing of Johan Kappelhof? Are you happy with the focus on young internationals or do you think it a risky and cheaper alternative to a veteran-focused approach?