There's been talk coming out of Chicago for the past couple weeks concerning Chicago Fire midfielder Sebastian Grazzini. The Fire signed the Argentine for one year last July, and the club has an option to keep him around for the rest of the 2012 season. Apparently, Grazzini was not aware that the club controlled his situation, and he seems to be upset. Although an article by Guillermo Rivera yesterday on Fire Confidential indicated that the tea leaves looked like there might be friction behind the scenes and Grazzini's option would not be picked up, an article by Anthony Zilis on MLSsoccer.com today shows the friction may have been overblown and Grazzini could yet remain in Chicago. We will have to wait and see if Grazzini is cut loose from Chicago at the end of the month.
If his option is not picked up, Chivas USA should pursue Grazzini. He is a player with MLS experience who would fill a need for the team and who comes with a fantastic price tag.Grazzini is a central attacking midfielder, something that I think Chivas desperately needs at the moment. He's played 24 matches in MLS over the last two seasons, scoring seven goals and providing eight assists. His arrival in Chicago was overshadowed by that of Pavel Pardo, who has been decent for the Fire but who arrived in Chicago well past his best. Grazzini is 31, so he wouldn't be a long-term solution, but in MLS, roster turnover makes it difficult to maintain stability for more than a couple of years, so that shouldn't be a big concern as long as a particular player can perform.
And Grazzini can perform. He has drifted out of matches from time to time, and as a result fits the languid Argentine playmaker profile. But on the whole he's been effective, and his drifting is a strategy meant to catch defenses unaware. He drifts all over the field, meaning he needs an anchor beside him in a defensive or box-to-box role, something Chivas already have via Nick LaBrocca, Oswaldo Minda, not to mention Ben Zemanski and Peter Vagenas. Chivas saw Grazzini's gifts on full display May 4, when the Fire defeated Chivas 2-1 off an injury time goal from Marco Pappa. Grazzini set up Chicago's equalizer a few minutes after Chivas took the lead in that match, when he sent a lob towards goal and rookie Austin Berry finished the chance. In addition, he gave Chivas fits all night, as he nearly scored a goal of his own, and when he drifted to the edge of the field, he helped to give Pappa space to make the winning goal.
He didn't just have one good game that happened to be against Chivas. He was arguably the spark that helped get Chicago to the U.S. Open Cup final last year and nearly helped Chicago get to the playoffs last season after they looked to be well out of it for most of the year. You know it is a good sign when the rumblings that Chicago's front office may not pick up Grazzini's option is met with panic on the part of Fire fans. If Chivas get a chance to grab him, they should do it without hesitation.
The final factor that should sweeten the deal is Grazzini's price tag. At the moment, he's on guaranteed compensation for 2012 of $50,400. That is an absolute steal. In the article by Zilis, Fire coach Frank Klopas explained that if Grazzini's option was picked up, it would be on his current salary, as the club doesn't renegotiate midseason. That seems like a prudent strategy, but he might be the kind of player who would warrant an exception. At any rate, if Chivas get a chance, they should offer to double his contract. Even at $100,000 he would be good value for the league.
In the end, this could be a moot point and he may never become available. But if Chicago declines the option, Jose Domene should be on the phone with Grazzini's agent in a matter of seconds. Chivas are an improving team, but they need a playmaker in the midfield and Grazzini has experience in the league, which means Chivas wouln't have to worry about the usual adjustment period for foreign players. He isn't paid at an exorbitant rate, and it could be a mutually beneficial situation. As a result, let's see if we can make Grazzini a Goat.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!