CHICAGO — Despite missing out on the playoffs, the Chicago Fire are determined to stay in the news this week.
The Fire grabbed headlines with Bastian Schweinsteiger’s retirement and the team’s move to Soldier Field finally becoming official. Now, the Fire have signed a new player.
Álvaro Medrán, a 25-year-old Spanish midfielder with La Liga experience, signed as a Targeted Allocation Money player. He will be added to the roster in January on a two-year contract with team options for 2022 and 2023. Medrán was spotted at the Fire’s Soldier Field announcement Tuesday, and the buzz around a potential signing proved to be true.
Medrán came up through Real Madrid’s youth system and debuted for the senior team Oct. 18, 2014. He scored in a Champions League group match, but has bounced around Spain since.
Medrán made 20 La Liga appearances for Getafe on loan in the 2015-16 season. Getafe got relegated and he was sold to Valencia the following summer.
He played one season with Valencia and had year-long loans at Deportivo Alaves and Rayo Vallecano. Rayo Vallecano finished last in the league last season. Medrán has tallied nine goals in 77 La Liga appearances over five years.
Medrán terminated the final year of his contract with Valencia, making him a free agent. He signed with the Fire despite having offers from other clubs.
“I’ve known Álvaro since his time with Real Madrid and I’ve always enjoyed his style of play,” Fire coach Veljko Paunović said in a statement released by the team. “Every team in the league is looking for a player like Álvaro. He’s a player that has experience but is still young and in his prime.”
As a central midfielder, his arrival leads to questions about the rest of the Fire’s midfield. Nicolás Gaitán is more of an attacker than Medrán and has an option year on his contract. Dax McCarty, Brandt Bronico and Djordje Mihailovic split a majority of the rest of the minutes in the middle. It’s possible the Fire simply add depth at the position, but it’s also plausible that one or more of those players exit.