Chicago Fire Shower Thoughts - 1/3
Photo by Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The offseason is starting to pick up steam for the Chicago Fire.

They’ve already seen some player movement, with Jhon Espinoza leaving Chicago and Maren Haile-Selassie coming in from sister club FC Lugano. There’s also been a fair amount of rumors floating around the Fire, and it might just be a matter of time until more moves are made.

What are these rumors? How legitimate are they? Why doesn’t she want me back? All of those are fair questions, which is why I’m here right now. Let’s take a look at some of the transfer news surrounding Chicago.

Allez Allez Arnaud

By the time I get this article published the news might already be made official.

For all intents and purposes, it seems like the Fire are about to bring in Arnaud Souquet from Ligue 1 side Montpellier. There’s a chance he’ll technically join as a free agent, as the French club will probably release him in January instead of waiting for his contract to run out in the summer. That’s not an indictment on him, to be fair, because doing that would allow them to bring in a replacement this month.

Either way, he’d come to Chicago for free, which is an excellent bit of business. Souquet isn’t the biggest name, and he almost certainly won’t sell any jerseys, but he should be a really solid addition to the team. 

The Frenchman has featured in his country’s top division for the past six and a half years, although he did spend a year away in Belgium with Gent. He joined Montpellier in 2019, and he’s been a consistent presence in the lineup ever since.

I’m not going to pretend like I’m an avid watcher of Ligue 1, so I’ve never seen Souquet play. However, you don’t get to that level by accident, and even though he’s had a rough campaign this season, there’s a reason why he’s gotten so many minutes in the past.

He is a right back, and he could be a right back that suits the Fire’s system. See, he doesn’t get many goals or assists, but that might be a good thing. He focuses on the defensive side of the game, and that’s what Hendrickson prioritizes when it comes to his tactics. Boris Sekulić preferred going forward to tracking back, and that’s why things didn’t work out for him in the Windy City.

Souquet is still versatile, though. According to his positional chart on Transfermarkt he’s mainly been used at right back, but he’s also played a bit on the right wing. He’s also filled in at left back, center back, and in the center of midfield. His frame helps, as he stands at 5’10”, which means he’s not too short or too tall for any particular role.

All in all, this should end up being an excellent bit of business for Chicago.

New Moon on Monday

On the other side of the transfer coin, there’s been some developments in the case of Jhon Durán.

A report came out recently stating that Portuguese powerhouse Benfica were the new favorites to sign him. That was an interesting update, as in the past the kind of clubs linked with the player were a bit bigger in stature, like Chelsea and Liverpool. That’s not a slight on the Liga NOS side, of course, and they might actually be an ideal destination for him.

So many young players who make the jump up to a giant club end up getting lost in the shuffle. They go from being a big fish in a small pond to a tadpole in the ocean. The list of names this has happened to is nearly endless, and there's always the risk that Durán could be the next to suffer this fate.

However, the chances of that happening at Benfica are a lot slimmer. They’re a fantastic club when it comes to developing players. The likes of Darwin Núñez and Enzo Fernández are only the most recent examples of talents who have made their name at the Estádio da Luz.

They’ve also got plenty of money in the bank thanks to all of their sales, so they should be able to match whatever price tag the Fire sets for them. 20 million seems to be the benchmark at the moment, and that very well could be a good deal for all involved.

There’s still interest from elsewhere, as Premier League outfits Brentford, Fulham, and Aston Villa are linked with Durán, with the Clarets being the most involved of those three.

Chicago needs to make a decision soon, though.

It seems like they want to keep the striker for at least another year, and if that’s the case, then they need to make that stance clear. Tell other teams that they aren’t even entertaining offers, and that their sole focus is on building around him.

If they want to sell, then the Fire has to start looking at replacements now. They don’t have to get rid of Durán right away, and they can let the bidding war continue, but they’ll need to be ready for his eventual departure. 

They can’t put themselves in a position where they’re looking for a Designated Player type of forward weeks before the season is set to kick off. The new number 9 will need time to acclimate to life in the Windy City, and if he’s chucked into the deep end when the campaign has already begun, he’ll be set up for failure.

If it was up to me, I’d take the money now. I like Durán, but I don’t like him as much as others do, and I worry that the risk of keeping him outweighs the potential reward. Get the bread while you can, and then spend that bread on a big-name striker. 

Shaq going back?

Oh hey Xherdan Shaqiri news.

This one is certainly the least concrete bit of news, but it might be the most interesting. According to a few tweets floating around, there is legitimate interest from the Turkish league when it comes to Shaqiri, especially from reigning champions Trabzonspor.

Now, many have taken these rumors with a pinch of salt, which is fair considering the sources they're coming from. However, it does lead to an interesting debate. Would Chicago be better off selling him this offseason?

Part of that idea is ludicrous. Shaqiri is the club’s star player, their main attraction. His name is the one on the back of jerseys, and he’s the face of most of their marketing campaigns. Although his debut season was a bit disappointing, it was far from a disaster, and there’s a good chance he’ll be much better this time around, especially after his stellar World Cup showings.

However, it’s not the wildest possibility. The Swiss international still has value, and those aforementioned performances with his country are a big reason why. European clubs love to buy players who have good runs at major competitions, especially those who are still popular names. 

It would also free up a DP slot for the Fire, and it’d save them a bunch of money in wages going into next season. Shaqiri just didn’t live up to expectations this past year. The fit wasn’t right, and there are legitimate concerns over his availability since he spent most of the campaign dealing with some sort of injury. If Chicago wants an out, this is their opportunity.

I do not see it happening, though. It seems like they’ve already made their commitment to him, and selling him now would disrupt the club’s plans for the present and future. The biggest problem is that they would have to find a marquee talent to replace him, and knowing the Fire’s history of DP signings, that probably wouldn’t go too well.

Keep the faith and trust the process when it comes to Shaqiri. Also, please play him on the wing this season. I'm begging you.