MLS: Record signing Brazilian by FC Cincinnati raises eyebrows

On Tuesday, FC Cincinnati announced it had signed 21-year-old Brazilian striker Brenner from Sao Paulo.

The transfer fee is reported to be $13 million with incentives in the deal that could push the total outlay to $15 million. Without giving financial details, Sao Paulo described the fee as the largest paid for a player coming from South America to North America.

The transfer was announced a day after MLS reached an agreement with its players on a new labor deal that will save clubs millions of dollars over its seven-year term.

A record outlay for a player, giving MLS's austerity pitch, certainly raised a few eyebrows. Especially when the outlay came from the worst expansion team in MLS history, the only team that has finished last in the overall league standings in its first two seasons.

“It shows courage from our ownership,” said FC Cincinnati general manager Gerard Nijkamp in a media call. “In these difficult times, clubs are not so proactive to sign new players. Maybe that gives us the opportunity to get this player. We convinced him FC Cincinnati was the right place for his development.”

The transfer fee also raised eyebrows, given how quiet the winter transfer market was due to the pandemic, but that didn't stop FC Cincinnati from going after Brenner, who scored 11 goals in 27 Brazilian league games for Sao Paulo in 2020-21.

“We were at the right moment at the right place with the right timing with the right purpose,” Nijkamp said.

FC Cincinnati had reason to move now for a big signing. It is moving into its new West End stadium in 2021. In that regard, FC Cincinnati is similar to Minnesota United, which moved into Allianz Stadium in 2019, its third season in MLS.

But the similarities end there. The Loons were terrible in Year 1 but already starting to put the pieces together second season. In 2019, Minnesota dealt aggressively, but for help throughout the lineup: Vito Mannone, 2019 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, Ike Opara, the 2019 MLS Defender of the Year, 2019 MLS all-star Romain Metanire at right back and Jan Gregus and Osvaldo Alonso in midfield.

FC Cincinnati went 6-22-6 in its first season and finished with a slightly worse point-per-game average in its second season when it had a 4-15-4 record. The changes Nijkamp made after he arrived at the end of his first season had minimal effect. FC Cincinnati has a couple of good young midfielders in Frankie Amaya and Allan Cruz but holes throughout most of the lineup.

One name that came up in recent days as an FC Cincinnati target is Argentine Pity Martinez, who was dealt by Atlanta United to Al Nassr in Saudi Arabia last summer.

"It's not good to share names," Nijkamp said, "but we are busy with other targets. We try to do our utmost to get the best players in town. No. 10, winger and center back is what we need now."

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3 comments about "MLS: Record signing Brazilian by FC Cincinnati raises eyebrows".
  1. Seth Vieux, February 10, 2021 at 3:05 p.m.

    Kid looks really promising. Love how quickly he makes decisions, get his shots off with both feet, attacks the ball in the scoring areas, and obviously is very creative and confident on the ball. Definitely an interesting decision to come to MLS at 21 with so much potential.

  2. beautiful game replied, February 10, 2021 at 7:08 p.m.

    Brenner is confident on the ball, v.g. decision-maker, and goal-getter.

  3. frank schoon, February 11, 2021 at 9:56 a.m.

    This is what we need in the MLS, more of those types of players. Zlatan has moved the level of soccer up in the MLS. Zlatan has introduced to the American fan to a more polished, more creative type of soccer. If we are going to get more Latin players in the MLS then let it be South Americans...

    The General Manager of Cincinatti , Gerard Nykamp is a Dutchmen and I'm sure he was clued in by the Ajax scouts who likewise have brought in a young winger , a Brazilian from Santos, "Antony" who is starting on the right wing for Ajax. The next step for Nykamp is to bring in a dutch retired player ,a former winger, to make sure to teach the real ABC's of how to play wing.  Unfortunately  our youth are placed on the wing but our coaches have little or no clue of how to properly play that position.

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