Chicago Fire Close in on Augsburg Forward Florian Niederlechner

Augsburg's German forward Florian Niederlechner celebrates his goal on May 7, 2021

Following a controversial decision to release nine players at the conclusion of the 2021 MLS season, the Chicago Fireboard is making amends with some early moves in the transfer market. Just five days ago, Chicago brought in 31-year-old defender Rafael Czichos from Bundesliga side Köln. Now, the Fire has been linked with Augsburg hitman Florian Niederlechner. The experienced striker would certainly fill a void created by the departure of Robert Berić. Read on to learn more about this potential transfer.

Will the Chicago Fire Sign Florian Niederlechner?

Who is He?

The striker is a seasoned Bundesliga veteran, having spent the last six years in the German top flight. Across 166 league appearances for Mainz, Freiburg, and Augsburg, Niederlechner has scored 46 goals. Since joining the ranks of Augsburg in 2019, he’s scored 25 goals and provided 12 assists. He’s 31 years old and certainly has a few more years of high-quality soccer left in him.

What is His Current Status At Augsburg?

Niederlechner was a fixture in Augsburg’s starting lineup in the last three years but has fallen down the pecking order in the 2021-2022 season. He’s started just five matches since August, still managing to score three goals. One of them was a game-winning goal against Borussia Mönchengladbach.

Niederlechner’s future at his current club is further threatened by the arrival of MLS starlet Ricardo Pepi. At just 18 years old, Pepi was scouted by several top clubs including league rivals Bayern Munich before agreeing on a deal to join Augsburg. The club will be looking to give Pepi as much time on the pitch as possible, further threatening Niederlechner’s future. This is bound to increase the likelihood of a move to the Fire.

Is a Deal Possible?

Niederlechner’s contract expires in the summer, so the Augsburg board will want to avoid letting him go for free. Though they are reluctant to sell, allowing Niederlechner’s contract to run out would not be economically feasible for the club. With no starting place guaranteed, the German likely won’t agree to a new deal.

As for Chicago, they are more than interested in completing the signing. Ever since Robert Berić’s release, rumors have circulated around who might be the Fire’s new leader in attack. It seems they may have finally found their man. In an interview with Sky Sport Germany, technical director Sebastian Pelzer openly stated that the Fire “have deposited [their] concrete interest with the club.”

The striker is valued at $3.3 million, but Chicago has a solid chance at getting him for less because of the current contract situation. The board remains hopeful that Niederlechner won’t occupy a DP spot on the team’s roster.

The Verdict on Florian Niederlechner

This transfer has a high chance of happening. The Swiss and German influence in the Fire’s front office makes for good overseas connections, particularly at Bundesliga clubs. Niederlechner himself has nothing to lose by hopping across the pond. The only real losers here are Augsburg, but at this point, allowing the striker to leave is their best option. This would also be the second major addition from Chicago within three months. They announced their new head coach Ezra Hendrickson in November.

All things considered, it’s only a matter of time before we see Niederlechner in a Fire shirt. He’ll be making the move to Soldier Field in no time. Look out, MLS.

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