The Chicago Fire are reportedly chasing Ignacio Aliseda. But who is the young Argentinian and what can he offer the Fire in 2020 and beyond?
The Chicago Fire seem set to make their next major move of the offseason. This week, reports emerged that the club will sign Ignacio Aliseda from Argentina Superliga side Defensa y Justicia. Few details of the deal itself have yet to be confirmed, but rumor has it that the transfer fee for the player is around $3 million, which is a significant outlay.
Like most, I had never heard of Aliseda before this news broke out publicly. However, just because he is a relatively unknown player does not mean he will not be a potentially excellent acquisition.
If he does arrive in Chicago, perhaps the first thing to note is that Aliseda would be yet another young South American talent to make the move to Major League Soccer. The trend started with Miguel Almiron, who helped Atlanta United become a league powerhouse in their first few seasons. He then made the club a lot of money when he moved to Newcastle United for £20 million.
Since his arrival was such a success, other teams in MLS followed suit. Atlanta have since signed Ezequiel Barco and Pity Martinez, Minnesota United have just signed Luis Amarilla. LAFC have really gotten on board with this, bringing in the Uruguayan pairing of Diego Rossi and Brian Rodriguez. Even expansion side Inter Miami have joined the movement, with their two main acquisitions so far being teenagers Julian Carranza and Matias Pellegrini.
And now, the Chicago Fire seem to be the next in line to follow suit.
Aliseda is only 19 years old. That would make him the fifth-youngest player on the Fire roster. But he does not come without first-team experience. This season has been his first at the senior level, making 10 appearances while scoring once and giving an assist as well. Although it’s not the most amazing return, it is a decent start to a young career.
Part of Aliseda’s game goes beyond the basic statistics. The very definition of a direct winger, everytime he gets the ball, he drives forward with it. The Argentine excels when dribbling with the ball, isolating opposing defenders before blowing past them. This puts the focus on him, opening up space for teammates in the process.
Aliseda also possesses plenty of pace. He has that blistering speed to simply run by defenders. His only goal this season proves that as he flew on the counter with no one able to catch up to him. The winger then simply knocked the ball past the keeper before passing it into the back of an empty net.
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That skill set should translate well in MLS. Games are often open, with few teams able to defend properly, especially in a low block. That leads to chances on the counter-attack, where Aliseda could thrive. Just imagine him with Przemyslaw Frankowski bombing up and down the flanks. It is a frightening prospect for any would-be defense.
Aliseda does not come without weaknesses. He is 5’7” and only weighs around 150 pounds. His diminutive stature certainly helps in some regards, but it could be a problem when opponents start using their more sizable and powerful frames against him.
He also has many of the same issues most players of his age have early on in their career. He relies too much on his stronger left foot, often forcing the ball to that side, making him predictable to defend against, and his end-product is still questionable.
It is all well and good being able to skillfully dance past players, but those highlight-reel moments won’t matter if there is nothing at the end of them. Last season, the Fire failed to qualify for the playoffs because of their wastefulness in the final third and in front of goal. Adding another inaccurate attacker would not help that cause.
All things considered, signing Aliseda would be a big step in the right direction for the Chicago Fire. It is an acquisition with eyes turned towards the future, the club finally appearing to have a long-term plan. Aliseda is young and raw, yes, but he will be able to deliver this upcoming season. Fans, then, should start getting excited about seeing the Argentine at Soldier Field.