It's another busy offseason for FC Cincinnati.
The club, set to move into their brand new West End Stadium next year, are searching for key improvements to a squad that finished at the bottom of the Eastern Conference in 2020. A number of reinforcements will arrive, which will boost a handful of summer acquisitions already in the squad, but Cincy know they need an attacking enhancement this winter and the club are sifting through targets.
“We’re looking for a high-profile DP, a decision-maker," Nijkamp told media on a virtual press conference when asked if the club were looking for a DP attacking midfielder. "We’re working on that."
Jurgen Locadia, Yuya Kubo and Allan Cruz currently occupy all of the club's Designated Player spots, though Kubo and Cruz can be bought down with allocation money while Locadia's future at the club is uncertain as he is on loan. Siem de Jong arrived last winter as an attacking midfielder/second forward ostensibly to fill that void, though struggled to produce and Cincy declined his contract option this offseason.
One attacking midfielder they've been linked with is Atalanta star Papu Gomez, who will reportedly be departing the Italian club after a dust up with the club's manager. Nijkamp didn't directly comment on that specific report, though offered a sage bit of wisdom for silly season.
“There’s a lot of rumors, you must not believe all the rumors going out," Nijkamp said. "A lot of people like to put rumors out to make the GM a little bit nervous.”
The maneuvering to open at least one DP spot helps the club's flexibility. They don't currently have much room with international roster spots, but Nijkamp cautioned that perhaps not all players currently on the roster will be there by the beginning of the season. Plus, he revealed the team are close to receiving green cards for two players to open international spots.
They have already made one addition, selecting former New York Red Bulls homegrown midfielder Ben Mines in the Waiver Draft. The 20-year-old attacker had two goals and an assist across 262 MLS minutes.
“We feel that he is a talent in what he already did in New York and can make the next step in our club," Nijkamp said. "With his specific profile, I think he’ll be an added value for our roster.”
Cincy also lost the rights to Andrew Gutman in the Re-Entry Draft, a player they hoped to keep at the club but was a complex situation. Gutman is on loan from Celtic so there's no guarantee he stays in MLS. Atlanta United now have his rights after trading $75,000 GAM to Cincy to move up in the Re-Entry Draft.
“He’s not our player, it was hard to control him at that point before Atlanta took his rights," Nijkamp said. "That doesn’t mean he will definitely play next season in MLS, because Celtic has ideas about him. For us it was too long to wait for this situation.”
The club continues to analyze and negotiate for targets, looking for more success and competitiveness in 2020 as the roster continues to turn over and head coach Jaap Stam gets his first full season in charge.
“We know we’re on the right track," Nijkamp said. "Agents domestically are reaching out to us that they want to be part of this project. That’s very positive. In the international market, everyone understands this takes time. We want to have results quick. We’re working everyday very hard on that.”