TRANSFER TRACKER STATUS: Signing
Chicago Fire FC have a new Designated Player No. 9, announcing Tuesday they have acquired Hugo Cuypers from Belgian top-flight side Gent. He is under contract through the 2026 MLS season with an option for 2027.
Cuypers, 26, arrives for a club-record transfer fee of reportedly $12 million with another $2 million in add-ons. That surpasses the reported $7.5 million Chicago paid two years ago to land midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri from Ligue 1's Lyon.
If the entire reported financial package for Cuypers hits, he'd crack the top five most expensive signings in MLS history.
"We’re thrilled to officially welcome Hugo Cuypers to the club," Chicago sporting director Georg Heitz said in a release.
"We have been very focused on acquiring a striker in the prime of their career with a proven track record of scoring goals in a very competitive league. Hugo has been one of the leading goal-scorers in the Belgian first division over the last few seasons, and despite receiving interest from other teams, he had a very strong desire to join the Fire and help us achieve our goal of becoming one of the top clubs in MLS."
Cuypers, a former Belgian youth international striker, tallied 51g/15a in 90 matches for Gent – earning Belgian Pro League top scorer honors in 2022-23. His résumé also includes stops at Olympiacos (Greece), Ajaccio (France), Mechelen (Belgium) and more.
In Chicago, Cuypers is expected to spearhead an attack that includes Shaqiri and US youth international Brian Gutiérrez as other standouts. The Fire's additional strikers include Greek youth international Georgios Koutsias and offseason trade acquisition Tom Barlow.
"This deal would not have been possible without the continued commitment from ownership to invest heavily throughout all areas of the club," Heitz added. "We are confident that Hugo will be a game-changing addition to our team, and we look forward to having him in Chicago for the start of the 2024 MLS season."
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