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Katai May Be Staying In Chicago After All [UPDATED]

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It’s not quite a done deal yet but it’s a step in that direction

MLS: New York City FC at Chicago Fire Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Fire fans have been saying it for months now: Buy Katai.

Even before this past weekend, when the Serbian attacker scored two goals to life the Fire to a 3-2 win over New York City FC, the consensus was clear that Aleksandar Katai had become Chicago’s most productive member of the squad. It seemed obvious that his loan deal should be extended.

But this weekend came and went with no word on whether his original loan deal, which expired on Saturday, would be extended or whether a permanent deal was in the works. Even as late as postgame press availability on Saturday, neither the club nor the player could give any firm details on whether Katai would be staying in Chicago.

Sunday came and went. Monday dawned with no answers. The team returns to training tomorrow, so, presumably, a decision would have to be announced by then. (His absence would be a bit conspicuous, after all.)

Finally, we got some answers today.

So there we have it. A one-month extension to work out some kind of deal. And in the meantime, the MLS summer transfer opens on July 10th— theoretically giving the Fire some options in case talks with Katai and Deportivo Alaves fall through.

It’s not a permanent resolution, but it’s better than nothing.

UPDATE: Sam Stejskal over at MLSSoccer.com is reporting that Katai was never going to leave this weekend because the initial loan deal was always set to expire on July 31st. This weekend was apparently the deadline for the Fire’s purchase option. There’s a lot of unknowns here but it appears that if Katai stays through the rest of the season, it’ll likely be on an extension of the loan. Stejskal also suggests that if the Fire do ultimately buy Katai from Alaves, his salary footprint could be high enough that the club couldn’t pay him with TAM, and that they’d have to name him the third DP.