FC Dallas might sell $40+ million in players between this round of DP acquisitions and the last (Franco Jara in early 2020). With Pepi likely gone and the wing corps underwhelming, the club should go for two new DP attackers, a striker, and a wing, and might bring unprecedented resources to bear in that pursuit.
We previously pulled together a list of Pepi replacements (and Shamar Nicholson continues to look awesome since publishing that list). Today, we’re looking at a range of wingers FC Dallas could sign. Our focus will be on players that could serve as a second hub of chance creation alongside Jesus Ferreira – we want to pull defensive focus away from Jesus, feed him more off the ball, and provide better space and service for FCD’s fourth attacker, likely Schön or Obrian. It’s an illustrative list – I don’t have inside information.
Like last time, (apart from the MLS pick) I’ve sorted the prospects by FCD’s chances of getting them into SAFE, TARGET, and STRETCH groups, which are themselves approximately sorted top-to-bottom by my rating of them as options for FC Dallas. My top suggestions are in bold and get the full treatment. Others are only described by a sentence or so for the sake of brevity. Their SoFIFA or FMDataBa pages are linked under their names, where possible, to give you a general sense of their qualities (if not their quality). How did I come up with this list? Many different methods: searching for expiring contracts in Transfermarkt, looking for strong, consistent production in FBref, consulting DAVIES, filtering through FIFA and FM databases, and sometimes just stumbling upon guys.
Before we go foreign, let’s look at one player already in MLS that could maybe fill the role FC Dallas needs at an attractive price point.
Hey LAFC, what’s the price on Brian Rodriguez?
Rodriguez (21 years old, $6.6 million “market value” per Transfermarkt, plays for LAFC and the Uruguayan national team, right-footed) is really, really good. Like, the top six or seven wingers in MLS good. Don’t let the relative lack of goals and assists distract you - he’s elite at basically every other attacking stat (expected goals and assists, dribbling, passing, playing progressive, playing into the box, playing through the lines and in behind, etc), so the production almost certainly will come. In most games that he lines up for in MLS, he’s the best winger on the field. Kind of the Kingsley Coman of MLS: unreal and underappreciated.
Context: LAFC paid >$10 million to get him from Uruguayan giants Penarol in 2019. In a season and a half, he played 1,800 minutes and looked like the best young attacker of the last decade in MLS. He then forced his way into a bad loan to Spain, had a public spat with both his club there and LAFC, and is now back in LA looking similarly mercurial.
More context: LAFC might be on the verge of a hard reset. The two talismans of the club’s early success, Carlos Vela and Bob Bradley, are both out of contract after this year. With missing the playoffs a real possibility and new ST Arango lighting it up, a clean break from the prior regime may be in order – would unsettled virtuoso Rodriguez suddenly be available?
I’m not saying it’s likely. I’m saying Rodriguez is awesome and this might be FCD’s best shot to get him. FC Dallas is suddenly known as a club that knows how to spotlight young talent and find good homes for them in Europe, and there’s room in the salary structure to give him a nice little pay bump from his LAFC deal. It would probably be by far the largest transfer ever within MLS - $3+ million or something – but I think FCD would be negligent if they don’t put in a call should LAFC be left at home come playoff time.
KRISTIJAN LOVRIC – 25, $6.6 million, HNK Gorica (Croatia), Croatia, Right
By no means the biggest stretch on this list, but maybe the most established player we’ll mention. In the 2018-21 seasons for a good team in a league of quality somewhere in the neighborhood of Belgium or Turkey (or MLS), he had 50 non-penalty goals and assists at a rate of about two every three full games and he’s doing about the same this season. This is an in-his-prime output merchant that can pair with Ferreira as a creative hub and give FCD the set-piece specialist it has missed for years now. Though better as a scorer on the left where he can cut inside and shoot, Lovric is better as a run-of-play creator from the right, which would help him to pair well with either Schön or Obrian.
BRIAN OCAMPO – 22, $4.4 million, Club Nacional (Uruguay), Uruguay, Right
One of two highly-touted young wingers in Uruguay on this list, Ocampo is a very well-rounded attacker for his age, equally adept at cutting in from the left or beating his defender to the end line and crossing from the right, receiving in front of the defense to play through or running in behind. Productive from a young age, Ocampo has accrued nearly 0.6 goals and assists per 90 minutes in all competitions (including the Libertadores) as a pro. The best part? Unlike basically everyone else on this list, Ocampo’s contract in Uruguay (apparently) expires this winter, meaning FC Dallas could, even today, sign him to a pre-contract for the 2022 season without the expense of a transfer fee (but likely with higher wages and agent fees).
ROMAIN FAIVRE – 23, $14.3 million, Stade Brest (France), Left
He couldn’t break through at Monaco, but boy howdy has the big Frenchman been excellent for Brest and for the France U21s, less by way of final ball production and more in breaking down defenses with his passing and dribbling. Faivre is the most ambitious name on this list and is almost certainly out of FC Dallas’ price range.
ARMAND LAURIENTE – 22, $6.6 million, FC Lorient (France), France, Right
A destitute man’s Kylian Mbappe, Lauriente thrives distributing on the run in open space and has translated that skillset into some very strong performances for Lorient across two-plus seasons now. Another dead ball wizard.
FACUNDO TORRES – 21, $6.6 million, CA Penarol (Uruguay), Uruguay, Left
Very similar in profile to Brian Rodriguez (Penarol, Uruguay national team, etc) if a little different in aesthetics (if Rodriguez is Coman then Torres is Antony). LAFC was linked heavily last winter.
DERLIS GONZALEZ – 27, $3.3 million, Olimpia (Paraguay), Paraguay, Right
A Paraguayan playmaker who came up through two high-profile European clubs (Basel and Kyiv), Gonzalez returned to South America at age 23 at Santos where he was mostly awesome, and then, somewhat bizarrely, returned to Olimpia in his native Paraguay. Until that last move, he was a starter for the Paraguayan national team for half a decade but hasn’t been called up in nearly two years. That’s not due to his play at least: he’s scored nearly a goal or an assist per 90 at Olimpia.
LEVI GARCIA – 23, $4.4 million, AEK Athens (Greece), Trinidad & Tobago, Left
After coming from the AZ Alkmaar academy and breaking into Eredivisie and Europa league play as a teenager, Garcia slowly fell out of favor in the Netherlands. A productive two-year sabbatical in Israel led him to Greek contenders AEK Athens, where he has turned into maybe the most devastating winger in the country. He’s a quick, stocky dribbler with real vision and technique to put service into the box. Like Lovric, Garcia is a significant plus from dead-ball situations.
LUCAS JANSON – 27, $4.6 million, Velez Sarsfield (Argentina), Argentina, Right
With one good half-season on loan at Toronto FC in 2018 and a long history of solid production in Argentina, Janson mainly plays as an inside-the-box winger and chance-finisher.
IVAN PETRYAK – 27, $2.2 million, Fehervar (Hungary), Ukraine, Left
The diminutive Ukrainian has been tearing up the Hungarian top flight for three years now, but his playing style closely matches FC Dallas’ Schön, which would make one of them somewhat redundant.
JAVI ONTIVEROS – 24, $5.5 million, CA Osasuna (Spain) on loan from Villareal (Spain), Spain, Right
He came up at Malaga and now fights for Villareal’s loan army, but Ontiveros has never really been able to establish himself in La Liga, showing everything but the final ball in his limited appearances.
YANN KARAMOH - 23, $6.6 million, Karagumruk (Turkey) on loan from Parma (Italy), Ivory Coast, Right
After breaking through in a massive way at Caen in Ligue 1 as an 18-year-old, Karamoh first went to Inter then Parma on big-money deals but struggled to recapture that early magic. Both his loan to Turkey and his contract with Parma expire next summer.
MOUNIR CHOUIAR – 22, $6.6 million, Malatyaspor (Turkey) on loan from Dijon (France), France, Right
A second player whose loan to Turkey and contract with his home club both expire next summer, Chouiar is a dribblin’ fiend but hasn’t really ever turned that skill into much end product.
SONDRE SØRLI – 25, $440k, Bodo/Glimt (Norway), Norway, Left
The best attacker for the best Norwegian club, Sørli led his hometown mid-table club Kristiansund as a young player before jumping to the champions, Bodo/Glimt, this offseason. At the beginning of this year, the little lefty was scoring and assisting as much as he ever had, but injuries have kept in out in the last few months. Should FCD get him, he would offer a very different profile than the wingers they have on the roster. He’s #27 for the yellow in these highlights.
THOMAS GOIGINGER – 28, $2.2 million, LASK (Austria), Austria, Right
Apart from RB Salzburg, LASK has been the top club in Austria in recent years, and their best attacker since 2017 has been Thomas Goiginger. A standard right-footed right winger, Goiginger excels coming in from wide and putting dangerous balls into the box and has put up more than a goal or an assist every other game in each of the last three full years. He’s #27 for the black in these highlights.
JESE RODRIGUEZ – 28, $1.7 million, UD Las Palmas (Spain), Spain, Right
A former dribbling wonderkid from the Real Madrid academy, Jese hasn’t been able to shine on the club stage since the 2015/16 season and now toils in the Spanish second division, which may open up the possibility of FC Dallas adding his classy game for a discount.
JEAN-LUC DOMPE – 26, $1.5 million, Zulte Waregem (Belgium), France, Right
After a mostly anonymous first half of his career bouncing around Belgium and France, Dompe’s very successful last 18 months at ZW have marked a late-blooming break out in a good league.
MEHDI CHAHIRI – 25, $1.7 million, SM Caen (France) on loan from Strasbourg (France), France, Right
Chahiri’s a fun Vardy-esque story: from shining to the lower tiers of France to tormenting Ligue 1, he’s another “Dribbling and Defense” combo package.
JARLAN BARRERA – 26, $2.6 million, Atletico Nacional (Columbia), Colombia, Left
Something of an institution at this point in his home country, Barrera has played a lot of minutes, scored a lot of goals, and collected a lot of assists in his career. His contract will expire next summer.
IGNACIO PEREIRA – 23, $385k, CA Fenix (Uruguay), Uruguay, Left
LEANDRO SUHR – 24, $440k, Plaza Colonia (Uruguay), Uruguay, Right
We’ll take Pereira and Suhr together. They’re both reasonably young Uruguayan attackers with tons of experience in their home country and respectable track records of production. Both are closer to the Obrian- or Vargas-tier of signings than what we’re expecting the level of new DPs to be.