BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – With a firm decision regarding the ongoing Jermaine Jones transfer saga expected “in the next 24 hours,” Chicago Fire head coach Frank Yallop admitted he was “tired but excited” by the prospect of bringing the in-demand US midfielder to Toyota Park.
The confusion and speculation surrounding the free agent Jones reached fever pitch overnight with suggestions that the 32-year-old had signed a league contract although Jones denied the rumors on Twitter. Still, Yallop was in a buoyant mood as he discussed the player with the media at Toyota Park on Thursday and sounded optimistic that his key summer target will finally become a Chicago player later this week.
The rumours that I signed with mls are not right!!!— Jermaine Jones (@Jermainejunior) August 21, 2014
“Three weeks ago we identified the player, got to a good place with him and he’s excited to come and obviously we want to follow that through now and get him here,” Yallop said. “So we’re hoping that everything goes through and that he will be joining us pretty soon.”
And while the drawn-out negotiations and on-off status of the move has frustrated Yallop, he admitted: “I think the decision is coming pretty quickly. It’s been about four weeks since we started to talk to him, so it’s been frustrating in that point. But I feel something is going to be done hopefully in the next 24 hours. … Although I’ve said that a few times.
"Once I knew he was available and we pursued it, it was like, ‘OK, this guy is good, he’s really going to help us,’” continued Yallop. “He’s my type of player as well. Just speaking to him, he was getting excited about what we could do and all those things. But we just want it over with either way and at least you can move on. I guess we’ll be disappointed if we don’t get him, for sure.”
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But if the pursuit of Jones finally does come to fruition, Yallop expects the influential midfielder to hit the ground running because of his natural fitness.
“His fitness is always top of the charts in the US stuff that he does, and that’s all we can go on,” Yallop said. “We’ve checked on that, and I think he was third fittest in camp when he was with the US boys, which is a good sign, so he’s naturally fit. He hasn’t done any football, which is always a difficult thing, but I don’t expect him to be too long. If it gets done, he gets in the next couple of days, I’d expect him to be ready to go at the end of the week.”
Shane Murray covers the Chicago Fire for MLSsoccer.com.