The Chicago Fire are in the midst of an excellent season, going from cellar dweller to MLS Cup contender, but one key player's unhappiness has the Fire facing a tough decision.
Ghanaian winger David Accam has submitted a transfer request, asking the Fire to let him leave by accepting one of the offers that have recently been submitted, sources have confirmed to Goal.
Accam has been pushing for a move to Europe for a good while, but an already-tenuous relationship with Fire coach Veljko Paunovic hit rock bottom recently with Paunovic's decision not to name Accam to the MLS all-star team despite being the coach for the match and despite Accam being currently in the top 10 in goals (11) and assists (7).
Sources tell Goal the all-star snub served as the last straw for Accam, who was already growing desperate for a transfer move, but had up to that point remained patient while the Fire fielded multiple transfer offers.
“I am disappointed because I think I played really well, especially coming from your own coach, it makes it even worse,” Accam told reporters on Tuesday. “Personally, I know I’m doing well. I’ve scored 11 goals, 7 assists this season. That is the pride I have. I’m doing well and I know I’m doing well even though I’m disappointed my coach ignored me.”
Accam demanded a move away from the Fire before last week's loss to New York City FC, with sources telling Goal that the move led to Paunovic benching Accam for the big Eastern Conference clash. Accam eventually came off the bench at halftime and scored a goal in a 2-1 loss.
Accam's request for a transfer comes as the Fire were already weighing a potential move for Colombian midfielder Juan Quintero. As things stand, the Fire are still negotiating a transfer price for Quintero with FC Porto, and even if the Fire work out a manageable price for Quintero, they still need to make a move in order to fit Quintero within the team's salary cap structure.
Quintero would join the Fire as a designated player, and the FIre currently have three DPs on the roster, so they must either move one or make a trade to acquire targeted allocation money in order to make Accam a TAM player, thus freeing up a DP slot for Quintero.
Multiple teams from French Ligue 1 have made offers for Accam, but the Fire have yet to receive an offer within the range the the club would be willing to accept, a number somewhere around $3 million.
The Fire could also consider dealing Accam within MLS, though the forward has spent two years angling for a move to Europe. Sources say that the Fire offered up Accam in a package deal with allocation money to the New York Red Bulls in exchange for Dax McCarty and Sacha Kljestan. The Red Bulls ultimately turned down the offer before the two teams settled on a trade of McCarty for allocation money.
Accam has one year left on his current MLS contract after this season, with a $1 million option year in 2018. The Fire will need to decide soon whether it is time to cut ties with an unhappy player who wants out, or make him stay and risk having a disgruntled player in the locker room as they make a push for an MLS Cup title.
If the Fire and FC Porto reach a deal on Quintero, it could make the decision on Accam an easy one.