The Philadelphia Union announced a club-record transfer fee of $1.7 million to secure the services of their top player, Jamiro Monteiro while agreeing to terms on a new three-year contract with an option on a fourth year and in doing so, proved to their fans they’ve learned from their past.
Many, if not all Union fans, were assuming the worst a few weeks back when it came to Jamiro Monteiro after hints here and there from Union Sporting Director Ernst Tanner made it seem like the price to purchase Monteiro from France club FC Metz was just too high. But yesterday, the club released news of a club-record transfer fee to firmly secure Monteiro’s services for three more years as the club’s newest Designated Player signing.
Monteiro played with Philadelphia last season on loan from FC Metz. There was an option to buy granted in the initial loan agreement and Tanner utilized every bit of spending power he was capable of to bring him back on a full-time basis. At season’s end, Tanner mentioned that the overall market for successful MLS players was tilted against the Union’s favor. Meaning some clubs like Atlanta FC and LAFC to name a few have significantly deeper wallets than Philadelphia, which makes negotiating contracts with top players like Monteiro a bit of an uphill climb.
Monteiro and his agent may have noticed other players being paid more handsomely elsewhere in the league and could’ve utilized that information as key leverage. Thankfully, though, the two sides were able to reach an agreement that grants the 26-year old and his unique midfield skills at least three more years in the blue and gold.
“I’m so happy that I signed for the Union,” said Monteiro in a short twitter video. “I cannot wait to be back on the pitch, see you guys soon. Love.”
The speedy and very dynamic midfielder caught the eye of nearly every Union fan last year with his abilities to impact matches both offensively, defensively, and most importantly in transition.
“We are pleased to have reached an agreement for Jamiro to return to our club,” said Tanner. “When he joined the club last season, his impact on-field was immediate. He’s aggressive defensively and very strong in transition which fits in perfectly with the style of play we’ve implemented. We look forward to welcoming him back.”
Monteiro, a native of Cape Verde, has showcased an ability to excel at every midfield position which should be a vital skill set that Head Coach Jim Curtin will continue to utilize in 2020. Whether Curtin wants him at the creative 10 position or flanking on the left or right, Monteiro will surely make positive impacts.
The one key aspect of Monteiro’s game is his ability to aid in defensive efforts. Last season he became known for popping up all over the pitch to win balls back with successful, albeit physical tackles, for his small stature. But what makes his defensive skills so unique is his ability to actually push forward immediately after winning balls in the midfield. He not only disrupts opposition’s build-up play, but he then turns those moments into real threatening counter chances.
It’s a style of play Philadelphia will likely try to build even more on in 2020. The newly acquired Jose Martinez has been touted as a defensive midfielder with great pace and passing abilities, which should also allow the club to focus more on transition moments this season. Coupled with Monteiro and Bedoya in the midfield, Martinez should be able to take over for Haris Medunjanin at the six spot. And with far greater speed than Medunjanin, this new midfield grouping could provide Curtin and his staff with several different ways to attack opposing teams.
But perhaps more importantly, the announcement of Monteiro’s purchase and new long-term contract finally marks a significant shift in the franchise’s narrative.
That old narrative that surrounded the Union prior to their best season in franchise history last year was one built on a past of seeing top players come and go. That old narrative was bolstered by a front office who either could not spend what is needed to keep top talent in Philadelphia or simply wouldn’t spend more.
Many fans became increasingly frustrated with the club as the years progressed. They just wanted the front office to prove to them that they know the importance of securing top talent for multiple seasons, instead of relying on one-time players like Tranquilo Barnetta and Borek Dockal to name a few.
Now, Tanner has pushed the needle way further than it’s ever been for the franchise. A club-record $1.7 million transfer fee may seem low to previously mentioned LAFC and their fanbase, but for Philadelphia fans, this is a significant step toward greener pastures.
But is it enough?
The club is still a step or two behind in terms of spending. However, to highlight that aspect would be unfair at this point. Instead, fans should focus on the positives.
Tanner realized a strong need to bring back Monteiro and was able to muster enough funds to pull the trigger. Gone are the days in which a talented player flashes brilliance for a year and is sent packing due to a shortcoming of money to secure their services. Gone are those days.
The Union now have a prime opportunity to build on their heightened success as a franchise. They are trending very much upwards and this signing is just one more step in the right direction.
Time will tell just how successful Monteiro and Philadelphia can be. But one thing is certain, the club made it known they aren’t messing around anymore. They want success.
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Mandatory Credit: Michael Reeves – for Medianews Group
Graduate of Pennsylvania State University ’16. Interests include sports and history. Follow on twitter for Philly sports news – @MMcClain_PSN
Philadelphia Union writer.