The Chicago Fire finally have their DP #9.
Hugo Cuypers, who turns 27 tomorrow, will be the man to be the Fire’s new star forward, arriving in a blockbuster club-record move from Belgian club Gent. The signing is among the most ambitious in team history as it brings a top striker from a strong European league across to MLS in his prime.
“We have been very focused on acquiring a striker in the prime of their career with a proven track record of scoring goals in a very competitive league,” Sporting Director Georg Heitz said in a statement Tuesday. “We are confident that Hugo will be a game-changing addition to our team, and we look forward to having him in Chicago for the start of the 2024 MLS season.”
Cuypers already has 17 goals this season across all competitions and has been particularly prolific in the UEFA Europa Conference League, where he is currently the competition’s top goalscorer. Last season, he scored 34 goals for his club, among the highest tallies in Europe.
In recent months, Gent have rejected bids from clubs in the top five European leagues such as Bologna and Hoffenheim, while Scottish giants Rangers also had interest this January. While the Fire’s initial bid was also rejected, Cuypers reportedly asked to leave as he sought to join Chicago, according to Belgian outlet VP.
Though Cuypers will need to acquire a visa to join up with the team in the U.S., he is still expected to be ready for the start of the season on February 24th. Cuypers is signing with the club on a three-year deal through 2026, with a club option for 2027.
The signing will be the third-most expensive in MLS history if add-ons are met, trailing just Thiago Almada and Pity Martínez, as the reported fee could be as high as $14 million. It smashes the club record for a transfer fee set by Xherdan Shaqiri in 2022.