BRIDGEVIEW Ill. — Lost amid the hype and hoopla of the Chicago Fire’s signing of Mexican striker Nery Castillo and the rumors of a second DP on the way to Toyota Park is the contract status of an important player already here: Wilman Conde.
Conde’s current deal expires at the end of this season, and the Colombian center back isn’t short on suitors. According to his agent, the 27-year-old, who was named to the 2010 MLS All-Star team this week, is garnering interest from Argentine giants River Plate along with clubs in Spain, France and Mexico.
But negotiations with the Fire are ongoing and, according to both sides, proceeding well.
“We’ve made an offer,” Klopas told MLSsoccer.com. “We feel that it’s a very good one.”
Conde’s agent, former Fire player Diego Gutierrez, agrees.
“I think the team has presented an offer that is interesting to the player,” Gutierrez told MLSsoccer.com. “Both the league and the team have made it very obvious that they want him to stay. They have made a very good offer and want to retain his services.”
Now the onus is on Conde to make a decision as to where he wants to play.
“It’s going to be a matter for the player of sitting back and thinking about what he wants to do.” Gutierrez said. “It’s about a lot of different things. It’s not just about money; it’s about what is the best decision.”
Gutierrez, who also represents former Fire player Bakary Soumare, added that there is no timetable for Conde to make a decision.
Klopas, of course, is hoping that Conde will choose to remain a member of the Fire. With the hiring of manager Carlos de los Cobos and the recent signings, there is a momentum at the club, currently in fourth place in the Eastern Conference, and a feeling that they could find a real rhythm in the second half of this season and beyond.
“We know how prestigious it is for any player to be a part of this organization,” Klopas said. “We feel that the players that are here understand that and respect that, so we made an offer. And now it’s up to the player. Hopefully he knows that this is a great organization and one that he wants to continue with and win championships with.”
Sam Stejskal covers the Chicago Fire for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.