BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. (March 14, 2019) – The Chicago Fire Soccer Club announced today that it has acquired midfielder Nicolás Gaitán via free transfer from Chinese Super League club Dalian Yifang. Gaitán was signed with Discretionary Targeted Allocation Money (DTAM) and Targeted Allocation Money (TAM). He will be added to the Fire’s roster pending receipt of his P-1 Visa and International Transfer Certificate (ITC). He is under contract for the 2019 season with a Club option for 2020.
“We have wanted to add another attacking piece and believe Nico’s dynamism and play-making ability could be a perfect fit,” said Chicago Fire Soccer Club President and General Manager Nelson Rodrίguez.
Gaitán, 31, joins the Fire with a wealth of experience at the professional level, including 274 league appearances and 42 goals in the top divisions in Argentina, Portugal, Spain and China. A native of San Martín, Argentina, Gaitán originally began his professional career with Boca Juniors in 2008, making his debut after rising through the club’s academy system. In two seasons with Boca Juniors, he made 65 appearances (31 starts), scoring 12 goals in league play.
In 2010, Gaitán was transferred to Portuguese powerhouse Benfica. Following his first season with the club, Gaitan was named the Portuguese League’s Breakthrough Player of the Year after helping his team secure the Portuguese League Cup. Across six seasons (2010-16) at Benfica, he compiled 152 league appearances and won three Primeira Liga titles, five Portuguese League Cups and one Taça de Portugal trophy.
Additionally, Gaitán made 68 appearances in the UEFA Champions League during his time with Benfica, including a career high for games played and starts (14) during the 2011-12 competition.
“Nicolás is a player that can destabilize any defense in this league,” said Chicago Fire Soccer Club Head Coach Veljko Paunović. “He has an enormous amount of talent and is still in his prime. We’re eager to get the most out of his attacking creativity.”
Following six successful seasons with Benfica, Gaitán joined La Liga club Atlético Madrid ahead of the 2016-17 campaign. In two seasons with the club, Gaitán made 29 appearances in the Spanish first division and featured in nine Champions League matches. On Feb. 26, 2018, Gaitán joined Chinese side Dalian Yifang. He made 28 appearances (28 starts) for the club.
At the international level, Gaitán has earned 19 caps for the Argentina National Team since making his senior-team debut in a 2-0 friendly win over Ghana on Sept. 30, 2009. Most recently, Gaitán appeared in five matches for Argentina during 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying and three matches during the 2016 Copa America Centenario.
The Fire paid $50,000 in General Allocation Money (GAM) to Seattle Sounders FC for discovery rights.
Transaction: The Chicago Fire Soccer Club acquires midfielder Nicolás Gaitán via free transfer from Dalian Yifang and was signed with Discretionary Targeted Allocation Money (DTAM) and Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) on March 14, 2019. The Fire paid $50,000 in General Allocation Money (GAM) to Seattle Sounders FC for discovery rights.
Name: Nicolás Gaitán
Weight: 150 lbs.
Date of Birth: Feb. 23, 1988
Birthplace: San Martín, Argentina
Last Club: Dalian Yifang (Chinese Super League)