News Live Scores
Transfers

Gaitan: Chicago Fire boss Paunovic 'had a lot to do' with MLS move

01:45 GMT 29/03/2019
Nicolas Gaitan Atletico Madrid
The midfielder comes to Chicago with high expectations, but says talks with his new coach were crucial in helping him make the decision to join

Nicolas Gaitan has credited Chicago Fire boss Veljko Paunovic as a big influence on his decision to join Major League Soccer. 

Gaitan was presented by the Fire in a press conference on Thursday, having announced the move two weeks ago. 

The former Atletico Madrid star could get his first taste of MLS on Sunday when the Fire host the New York Red Bulls, and the 31-year-old says his new boss played a big part in making the move happen.

“[He] had a lot to do with why I chose MLS,” Gaitan said of Paunovic. “He was the first person to contact me and talk to me about his ideas and how he feels about soccer. I think we feel the same way about soccer. That really helped me to make the decision to come to Chicago.”

Paunovic, for his part, is thrilled to have the Argentine playmaker on his squad, filling what the 41-year-old claims is a "gap" that has been in the team since he took charge ahead of the 2016 season. 

"We’ve been looking for a long time for a player with his qualities and his profile who can play the role of the creative, attacking player, a game-changer," Paunovic said. "That void we’ve had since [I’ve been] here. We were looking for somebody to fill it. 

"Now that he’s here, I think there’s nothing to change [tactically]. We just have to fill that gap, that spot that we were missing."

The Fire have lost two of their first three matches to open the MLS season, and Sunday's clash with the Red Bulls presents another big challenge, but Gaitan did not seem overwhelmed with the prospects of being tossed into a crucial role for a struggling side. 

"I’ve been in football for many years; they know what I bring to the table," Gaitan said. "They certainly have followed me and my trajectory for several years. They know what I can do. That’s why they brought me here. I don’t feel pressure. 

"I do feel flattered for the kind words that they’ve said here today."

Following Sunday’s match the Fire will face Toronto FC as they look to get their season back on track.