Union sign Mexico international Fabian as designated player

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Anne-Christine Poujoulat
The Mexican World Cup midfielder joins from Eintracht Frankfurt as the most expensive signing in the MLS club's history

The Philadelphia Union have filled their attacking midfielder void with the type of high-profile signing the team has never made before, securing the services of Mexican national team star Marco Fabian in a club-record deal.

The Union formally announced Fabian's signing on Friday, after the now former Eintracht Frankfurt midfielder completed his medical testing and signed a new designated player contract with the Union that makes him the highest-paid player in team history.

Fabian is being presented to Union fans at the team's jersey unveiling on Friday evening. Details of the deal, and his transfer from Eintracht Frankfurt, were not made public but reportedly he will join on a one-year deal with further option seasons. It is also reported the Union did not pay a transfer fee though Eintracht will get a five percent sell-on clause. 

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“We have been targeting Marco as a creative midfielder and we are extremely happy to complete this deal to bring him to Philadelphia,” said Ernst Tanner, the club's sporting director.

“Marco is a high caliber number 10, a true professional, and we believe he is a good fit for our system. He has played the game at the highest levels, whether in the German Bundesliga or of course with the Mexican National Team at multiple FIFA World Cups and the Olympic Games. We are looking forward to welcoming Marco as we turn our attention to the final phase of our preseason in Clearwater, followed by the season opener on March 2 vs. Toronto FC.”

The Mexico international was in the final months of his contract with Eintracht, making it likely he joins the Union on a free transfer, or for a small fee. His arrival is a major boost for a Union side that as still reeling from losing reigning MLS assist leader Borek Dockal, who returned to Chinese club Henan Jianye after failing to reach an agreement on an extension of his loan to the Union.

Fabian spent three years in the Bundesliga, though a major back injury that wound up requiring surgery cost the 29-year-old midfielder a full year of action. He eventually recovered and made his way back into the picture with the Mexican national team, earning a place in Mexico's 2018 World Cup squad.

A move to Fenerbahce was in the works in January, but that transfer fell through, with some reports suggesting it collapsed because of concerns about Fabian's health. Fabian denied those rumors, stating the transfer fell apart after Fenerbahce attempted to push through late changes in their agreement with him, changes Fabian rejected.

Fabian joins a Union side that reached the MLS playoffs in 2018, finishing in sixth place in the East. He stands as the club's first major acquisition of the offseason, which had been expected to continue emphasizing youth after enjoying success with the emergency of academy products Auston Trusty and Mark McKenzie in the heart of their central defense.

Union head coach Jim Curtin will be looking for increased contributions from Ghanaian midfielder David Accam, who was a major disappointment in 2018 after having been acquired in a major trade last winter. The emergence of forward Cory Burke was one of the highlights of the 2018 season, with his 11 goals leading the team. Fabian will be expected to help pick up the slack after the departure of Dockal, who recorded an MLS-leading 18 assists in 2018.

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