The Chicago Fire are finalizing a deal to sign Lugano right back Allan Arigoni, sources say. The Swiss full back will join on an initial loan, similar to the deal to bring in Maren Haile-Selassie ahead of the 2023 season. The transfer is expected to be finalized in the coming days, with an announcement expected before the start of preseason next week.
Arigoni, like new teammate Haile-Selassie, is a native of Zürich, though he came through the academy of Grasshopper Club rather than FCZ. In the past, his talent has received recognition overseas, as giant clubs such as Chelsea and Barcelona previously had reported interest in his signature, though a move never materialized and he ended up instead joining Lugano. Now 25 years old, he is a talented player entering his prime who is highly rated in Switzerland as one of the nation’s top domestic right backs. An attacking, ball-playing right back known for his rapid pace, Arigoni represents a boost at right back, where the Fire have struggled to find a consistent contributor for several seasons. He has also played left back and center back at times.
Arigoni is the next in a growing line of players moving between the Fire and sister team Lugano, which is also owned by Joe Mansueto as part of his multi-club network. There are several perks to working within this model; for one, the Fire won’t have to pay a loan fee for Arigoni (though his salary will still count against the cap). The two clubs also share performance data and analytics, so transfers from Lugano to Chicago are carefully planned to ensure that players will be a good fit in MLS. Haile-Selassie and Ousmane Doumbia, who both made the move last season, are examples of this, and both players were able to quickly adjust to the pace and style of play of MLS. While MLS clubs are only permitted to sell one player per season to a club within the same network (and it must use its annual one-time buyout to do so), they may bring in multiple players in a year. With Haile-Selassie’s loan being made permanent, therefore, this is the second Swiss-coated addition of the offseason.
The addition of Arigoni also has knock-on effects for the Fire’s other right backs, specifically Arnaud Souquet. The French defender joined the club last season from Ligue 1’s Montpelier but lost the starting job to 26-year-old Jonathan Dean, who also joined last offseason but from USL. Souquet now appears likely to leave the club this January, as with his $700,000 salary, being third-string is a wasteful use of cap space and resources. Dean would continue with the club as Arigoni’s backup.