Chicago Fire sign former Atletico Madrid star Gaitan

Nicolas Gaitan Atletico Madrid
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The 31-year-old former Benfica midfielder teams up with Bastian Schweinsteiger at the MLS club after leaving Dalian Yifang

Nicolas Gaitan has joined the Chicago Fire in a free transfer from Dalian Yifang, it has been confirmed.

The MLS club announced the arrival of the Argentina international on a one-season contract, though the club has an option to extend his stay for another year.

Gaitain, 31, spent six seasons at Benfica before joining Atletico Madrid in 2016. After a year and a half with the Spanish side, the winger and midfielder opted for a move to the Chinese Super League with Dalian Yifang. 

A former Manchester United target, Gaitan spent one year in China, scoring twice in 28 appearances, but has now opted to play in a fifth continent by making the switch to the United States.

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Weeks after initially being linked to the Fire, the former Benfica and Boca Juniors player joins the side that includes former Germany and Bayern Munich star Bastian Schweinsteiger.

Coach Veljko Paunovic is delighted with Gaitain's arrival and is confident the new signing will have a big impact in the new campaign.

“Nicolas is a player that can destabilise any defense in this league,” he told the club's website. “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."

Meanwhile, president Nelson Rodrίguez welcomed the addition of a Europa League winner and three-time Portuguese champion to his team.

"We have wanted to add another attacking piece and believe Nico’s dynamism and play-making ability could be a perfect fit," he said.

Although Gaitan has left Dalian Yifang for free, the Fire have paid the Seattle Sounders $50,000 in General Allocation Money for discovery rights.

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His addition to the Fire squad will be completed once his Visa and International Transfer Certificate are granted.

Chicago finished second bottom of MLS's Eastern conference last season and have already signed center back Marcelo from Portuguese side Sporting CP and Poland international winger Przemyslaw Frankowski.

Paunovic's side has played two games in the 2019 campaign, losing 2-1 to the LA Galaxy and drawing 1-1 with Orlando City.