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Chicago Fire sign Polish winger Przemyslaw Frankowski

Przemyslaw Frankowski playing with Polish club Jagiellonia Bialystok. Photo credit: www.jagiellonia.pl

The Chicago Fire’s offseason had a slow start in terms of adding players, but the team signed Polish winger Przemyslaw Frankowski on Tuesday.

The long-rumored move came to fruition with Frankowski joining the Fire via transfer from Polish club Jagiellonia Białystok. The 23-year-old has a four-year contract with the Fire.

Frankowski was signed using one of Major League Soccer’s newer roster mechanisms, Discretionary Targeted Allocation Money. This means Frankowski could have qualified as a designated player, but the Fire already have all three spots filled (Bastian Schweinsteiger, Nemanja Nikolic, Aleksandar Katai). Frankowski’s transfer fee is believed to be seven figures.

He gives the Fire a Polish national team player in a city known for its Polish community. Frankowski has four caps for Poland, all coming in the past year.

In four-plus years with Jagiellonia, Frankowski made 140 appearances (113 starts) and scored 24 goals in league play. He also scored three goals in the Europa League in seven appearances.

Frankowski’s addition gives the Fire a potentially very stout top four or six players in attack and midfield. With 2017 MLS Golden Boot winner Nemanja Nikolic leading the way up top, Frankowski now joins Katai and promising homegrown Djordje Mihailovic in midfield. Dax McCarty and Bastian Schweinsteiger, if he moves back to midfield in 2019 after spending time at center back in 2018, can once again make a stout central midfield pairing.

The Fire’s weaknesses remain at the back. New addition Brazilian centerback Marcelo from Sporting Lisbon should be key for the back line. Every spot outside of that remains a question mark.

The Fire have a big hole at left back following the surprise retirement of Brandon Vincent and homegrown prospect Andrew Gutman signing with Celtic in Scotland. Right back is also unknown with Matt Polster in the process of securing a move to Rangers, also in Scotland. The addition of Frankowski could free up Raheem Edwards and Nicolas Hasler to move to right back. Both players split time between midfield and fullback in 2018.

Depth remains another issue, but the Fire also added homegrown signing Jeremiah Gutjahr later on Tuesday. Gutjahr played midfield for four years at Indiana, where he was a teammate of fellow homegrown player Grant Lillard. He is from Bloomington, Ind., and is a product of the Indiana Fire Academy.

Gutjahr brings the Fire to 20 players under contract, not including draft picks, waiver draft pick up Cristian Martinez and recently acquired Amando Moreno. Marco Urena, another waiver draft selection, opted to sign with Alajuelense in Costa Rica.

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