BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Midfielder Sebastián Grazzini will be sticking around in Chicago after all.
Javier Leon, managing director of the investment firm that owns the Chicago Fire, said on Thursday that the Fire have picked up the Argentine’s contract option for the rest of the season, a decision that was due on Wednesday.
“We believe he’ll be with us until the end of the year and hopefully further than that,” Leon said. “We told his representatives awhile back that we were going to exercise his option. I mean, he’s a starter, we want this guy.”
Leon said the decision was made awhile ago, but a situation with Grazzini’s family in Argentina put the official announcement on hold because Grazzini wanted the Fire to explore moving him to his native country.
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Grazzini has started 25 games since the Fire signed him midway through last season, scoring seven goals and adding nine assists. The delay led to speculation that Chicago wouldn’t pick up the option, but Leon said it was a “done deal” for a long time.
“He came to us and said that he had some family issues to address, and there was some thought that maybe he would go back to Argentina,” Leon said. “We’ve been working with him to make him understand the commitment he made to us, to the team.”
Leon said that the Fire had to explain to Grazzini that the club doesn’t renegotiate contracts in the middle of a season.
“This was a contract that was put in place to us by him and his group,” Leon said. “It wasn’t something that we designed ourselves. It was something that he brought to us and we were happy to do. From that standpoint, we explained that it would be clearly unfair, no matter who you are on the team, to turn around and change those things.”
As Grazzini left the training field on Thursday, he told reporters that there was nothing new regarding his situation. When asked on Wednesday whether he was staying, he replied, “It’s difficult,” and wouldn’t comment further except to say that the situation wasn’t about money.
The Argentine won’t be available on Friday when the Fire play Sporting Kansas City (8 pm ET, NBCSN, LIVE CHAT on MLSsoccer.com) after he missed practice early in the week. Head coach Frank Klopas said he hopes Grazzini is available for the July 3 game against Houston.
“He hasn’t trained, and I think it’s important to take the players that are in form and are in training,” Klopas said.
Leon suggested that, because Grazzini’s family issues, the situation was still somewhat fluid. But he seemed to expect that the Argentine would be around for the rest of the season.
“It’s still an evolving situation, but as far as the contractual relationship, he’s still with us,” Leon said. “When people are dealing with family situations, it’s always a difficulty. At the end of the day, we want a Grazzini that’s 100 percent, who is committed like the rest of the group.”