The Chicago Fire has just confirmed the signing of Swiss-Jamaican right back Allan Arigoni on a season-long loan from Swiss club Lugano ahead of the MLS preseason beginning in just a few days. The addition of Arigoni to the Fire roster is one to look forward to, considering his dynamic, powerful, and sharp style of play.
Though typically a right back, Arigoni is capable of playing on either side of the back line and, when needed, at center back. Standing at six feet tall, he is a player who relies on strength and speed to outplay his opponents. Known for quick counters and surges of pace, he resembles a young Héctor Bellerín in his early days at Arsenal.
Predominantly a right-footed player, he is perfectly capable of both switching the play and completing long passes/crosses using his weak foot. One of his most important traits, however, lies in his ability to read the game expertly, leading to the efficient interception of passes, great positioning defensively, and excellent forward passes oftentimes skipping multiple lines of players. Scoring multiple headers in his time at Grasshopper and Lugano, Arigoni’s frame allows him to be a threat in the air specifically on corners and set pieces. Keeping this in mind, he does not shy away from solo dribbles down the wing and, on occasion, impressive solo goals.
Arigoni was born in Zürich, Switzerland in 1998. His youth career consisted of playing for Riarena, Locarno, Bellinzona, and Lugano before signing his first professional contract with Grasshopper Club in 2017. This was quickly followed by his debut with them the following year. He has represented Switzerland at the U-18, U-19 and U-20 level for a total of five appearances. Arigoni shocked the footballing world in 2020 as one of the best Swiss right backs and one of the most pace-gifted upcoming players in his position. Although only 22 at the time, he began attracting the eyes of Chelsea and Barcelona through his incredible burst onto the professional scene with Grasshopper. With his market value being particularly low at the time, big European clubs became especially interested in signing him for their academies. None of these rumors materialized as he signed for Lugano in 2022.
For only being 25, Arigoni has been extremely consistent and has started almost every game he has played in for the last five years. With 120 professional appearances, 5 goals, and 16 assists throughout his career, he has gained a lot of experience in the time he has been a professional. Appearances in UEFA competitions such as the Europa League and the Conference League show that, regardless of playing in Switzerland, he has what it takes to perform on bigger stages. With 687 defensive interceptions, 1,134 ball recoveries, and over 2,500 duels won (aerial and ground), he plays with a hunger not seen in most defenders nowadays. Considering his playing style, having tallied 28 yellow cards with no reds shows his composure and the ability to keep his emotions under control no matter the circumstance. An elegant, dynamic, versatile but defensive and aggressive rock, Arigoni is exactly what the Fire need to reinforce an already solid back line.
Although the Fire did not necessarily struggle on defense last season, especially toward the end, it has been a while since the team has had an outside back with a real attacking threat. Arigoni’s ability to both switch the play and go forward in the build-up of a counter are going to be some very important weapons for the Fire to use this year to bounce back from a disappointing season. Having lacked extended runs of consistency in league play, the addition of a young and determined talent with the capability to play 90 minutes week in and week out will not go by unnoticed. Chemistry will not be something to worry about considering the Fire’s overall adaptability when it comes to bringing in new players and linking them up with veterans of the game and of the club. Like the addition of left back Andrew Gutman, recently acquired in a trade with Colorado, Klopas and Heitz have indicated a desire to gain more going forward from their full backs.
One of the best ways of looking at how beneficial this transfer is to the club is by comparing Arigoni’s performances to those of the player who he will likely be replacing: Arnaud Souquet. Since joining the club in early 2023, Souquet has had three assists and two goals (though neither were in the league). Although this may not sound bad for a defender, this is out of his 30 appearances for the club (of which only 10 have been wins). Arigoni, on the other hand, has scored two goals and assisted four in that time, most of which coming in important victories against teams such as Young Boys and Beşiktaş. Statistics such as duels won, passing accuracy, and even shots on goal all indicate that, on paper, Arigoni is a more reliable player. Earning nearly $700,000 in salary a year and having played only 30 games, Souquet’s performances do not justify the amount he is making, as he was benched by former USL defender Jonathan Dean come the summer. Arigoni, being six years younger, would most likely make less than half of this number and there would be no transfer fee considering he is coming from sister club Lugano on a loan. The deal would be very similar to that of Maren Haile-Selassie last season.
There are pluses and minuses, advantages and disadvantages to every transfer. This one, however, promises to have some significant positive impact without much of a catch. With the beginning of the 2024 MLS Season just around the corner, the signing of Arigoni represents a key addition to Klopas’ roster for the upcoming season.