If there’s one bit of solace fans of the Chicago Fire can take from the opening of the 2018 season, it’s that the team isn’t as bad as the Montreal Impact. It’s been a nightmare year for the Canadian side, who have the least amount of points per game in MLS (0.75). Their defense is prone to stupid mistakes and they’ve dropped points this season purely due to discipline problems.
In the midst of all this, the club is reportedly shopping their best player.
In an interview with a local radio station, Impact owner Joey Saputo said no one on the current roster is untouchable, even star attacking midfielder Ignacio Piatti.
“I may be speaking a little in the heat of the moment, but, seriously speaking, if someone comes to get Piatti and offers me X amount for him, I save on the salary cap and I make money.”
That quote got the attention of most of the rest of the league. One club who should have a particular interest in this news is the Fire, who has to bee seen as a possible destination for the player. The Fire have been known to lose out on transfer targets over in recent years, but bringing in Piatti could prove to be quite the coup for the club.
Simply put, Piatti is one of the best players in the entire league. The Argentine has been a massive success since joining MLS in 2014, and is the leading goalscorer in Montreal Impact history. He scored 17 goals and tallied six assists in 2017, and was named to the MLS All-Star Game last year. Piatti has continued to prove himself one of the best attacking players in the league, even as limitations from playing on a lackluster Montreal side have become apparent.
The Fire need an attacking midfielder and Piatti could be the savior the fans have been crying out for. Piatti has every trait a Number 10 needs to succeed. He is a wonderful dribbler and can break down any defense with his technical ability on the ball. He can get the job done in the final third. He has an exquisite passing game and can pick out any teammate with a through ball in behind. He’s also a reliable goalscorer, producing goals with well-timed runs into the box and smashing them in from distance. In short, Piatti would add a much needed dynamic to a Fire attack that has gone stale.
Yet there are some concerns with a potential move, with the the biggest one being his pay. Piatti is on a Designated Player contract and likely won’t take a pay cut wherever he goes. The Fire do have a DP slot open, but with the Fernando Torres rumors continuing to heat up, that may not be the case for long.
Piatti’s age might also be an issue. Having celebrated his 33rd birthday at the beginning of the season, the clock is definitely winding down on his career. On the other hand, there’s a case to be made for a Win Now kind of move. It seems increasingly likely that Bastian Schweinsteiger will be retiring at the end of the season. If Torres comes to Chicago, he won’t be here for long, as he is already 34 years old. The rest of the teams core isn’t much younger, with Dax McCarty at 31 and Nikolic at 30. The Fire might only have a year or two left to try and win the title with this current roster, and bringing Piatti would bring all the focus on short term success.
It is unclear what the Fire would have to give up in order to bring Piatti to the Windy City. The deal could just involve money— the Fire have built up a hefty war chest of allocation money. But there’s a chance the Men In Red could be sending a player the other way as well. With our squad already paper thin, giving up another player— regardless of who it is— might be too high a price.
All that aside, bringing in Piatti could be the spark Chicago desperately needs.