FC Dallas is adding a veteran midfielder to its roster ahead of the 2020 Major League Soccer season.
The club announced Thursday that it has agreed to a transfer with Brazilian Serie A side Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras for the rights to Thiago Santos. FC Dallas signed Santos, 30, using targeted allocation money.
Santos’ contract with FC Dallas will run through the 2022 season, with club options for 2023 and 2024. No other terms of the deal were revealed.
“From championship experience to midfield leadership, Thiago brings so much to FC Dallas,” FC Dallas president Dan Hunt said in a statement. “Thiago is someone who can make an immediate impact for us.”
This will be the first time that Santos has played in a league outside of his native country. He has spent the last five seasons playing in Brazil’s first division, Campeonato Brasileiro. Typically playing as a holding midfielder, Santos has scored six goals for Palmeiras in 180 appearances and helped the club win Brazilian championships in 2016 and 2018.
Santos has also played as a central midfielder and as a centerback.
The deal for Santos between FC Dallas and Palmeiras may have come to fruition through a family connection. FC Dallas technical director Andre Zanotta’s brother – Alexandre Zanotta – is the vice president for the Brazilian side.
“We feel that we needed to add that position after the departure of Carlos Gruezo,” Zanotta told FCDallas.com. “We were missing that piece (defensive midfielder) and I think Thiago – with the experience he has and his quality – he’ll be a fantastic fit for this club. He’s very physical and one of the top players in Brazil in terms of ball recovery, so we’re very excited to integrate him with the team, the club and the city.”
The 5-foot-11 midfielder will likely make his FC Dallas debut on Feb. 29, when the club hosts the Philadelphia Union for its first game of the season.