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Gaston Gimenez signs a new Designated Player deal with the Chicago Fire

He’s now under contract through the 2023 season

MLS: New York Red Bulls at Chicago Fire Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

In a move that’s sure to spark debate among fans, midfielder Gastón Giménez has signed a new Designated Player contract with the Chicago Fire. He’s now under contract through the 2023 season, and will occupy an international roster slot.

“Gastón is highly motivated to help lead the Fire back into the playoffs,” Sporting Director Georg Heitz in a statement. “He will benefit from a new start under Ezra Hendrickson and will partner with Federico Navarro to form one of the best and hardest working midfields in MLS next season. We have high expectations for Gastón and are confident that he will deliver for the Club.”

Heitz’s choice of the word “motivated” in the statement is interesting, because Giménez didn’t appear to be nearly as motivated in 2021 as he did in 2020, his first season with Chicago, when he was regarded as one of the better midfielders in the league. This past season there were persistent rumors on Twitter that Giménez was routinely late to training, which a club source said is not true.

“I’m very grateful and excited to continue representing the Chicago Fire,” Giménez said in a statement. “The Club has shown their confidence in me, and it is a responsibility that I do not take lightly. I look forward to giving the best version of myself for our fans and the city of Chicago.”

Signing him to a new contract, rather than just picking up the option on his old contract may end up proving to be smart business for the Fire. Sources say the Fire regularly receive interest in Giménez from other clubs, and the new contract would allow Chicago to sell him for a transfer fee if things don’t work out under new head coach Ezra Hendrickson. Plus, last year’s signing of Federico Navarro, a true defensive midfielder, should free up Giménez to play higher up the pitch as more of a No. 8, where he’s apparently more comfortable.

Still, plenty of fans will likely argue the Fire should have found someone else to fill that DP slot. With the departures of Robert Berić and Ignacio Aliseda, the club has two open DP slots to fill for the 2022 season.