Securing the Argentine forward to a Designated Player deal reportedly required a $6-7 million transfer fee to Liga MX’s Club Tijuana, a club-record fee that landed “La Pantera” as New England’s new sporting director and head coach sought to put his rebuild vision into practice.
That decision has paid off and then some, with Bou and New England formally reaching a two-year contract extension Tuesday that’ll keep the 31-year-old in Foxborough through the 2023 season. And much like when Bou first joined the Revolution, his ambitions remain in lockstep with Arena.
“It wasn’t too long, because both sides thought the same way,” Bou said of when contract negotiations began. “We thought about the project and achieving things for this organization. I’m thankful that Bruce is interested in me continuing with this club. That motivates me a lot and tells me I’m doing well, and helping my teammates achieve important things. That was the conversation we had. The objective is always the same, to help this team achieve big things.”
Bou’s already elevated New England, supplying 29 goals and 14 assists across 62 regular-season games. He featured at this summer's All-Star Game presented by Target, and his 24 combined goals and assists in 2021 (tied for fourth in MLS) were vital in the club securing their first-ever Supporters’ Shield and setting a new single-season points record (73). They even scored a league-high 65 goals this year.
Not quite a center forward nor a winger, Bou often floats in the final third and employs a fire-at-will approach once he reaches 35 yards from goal. But he’s also shown a playmaker’s eye and developed a strong relationship with fellow DP forward Adam Buksa, a budding Poland international, and playmaker Carles Gil, this year’s presumptive MVP frontrunner.
Bou and Gil are poised to link up long-term, with the Spaniard penning his own contract extension this past May. The DP and club captain’s deal runs through 2024, giving New England a dynamic duo to build around.
“Playing next to Carles Gil is incredible,” Bou said. “From my first training session here, I was able to see the quality Carles has and I knew I had to be in my best form and adapt to the team as quickly as possible. I knew that next to him we could do a lot for one another and I knew he’d help me score a lot of goals. I think we have great chemistry today. We know one another well now.”
For centerpieces beyond Bou and Gil, New England must determine how they replace outgoing Canadian international Tajon Buchanan for the 2022 campaign. The winger is bound for UEFA Champions League side and Belgian First Division powerhouse Club Brugge this winter on a club-record sale, while there’s also European-centric transfer speculation surrounding Buksa as his production and profile increase.
Another layer is how New England approach the league’s new U22 Initiative, particularly ahead of their 2022 Concacaf Champions League journey. Most MLS sides have acquired young attacking talent with it, geared toward long-term potential and a potential transfer, potentially introducing another dimension to Bou’s role in the Revolution offense.
But returning to the here and now, Bou’s desire to remain in New England is profound – and that’s coming from a forward who’s featured at high-profile South American clubs like River Plate (Argentina), LD Quito (Ecuador) and Racing Club (Argentina).
“I think the club is growing more and more each day,” Bou said. “The results are proof of that and so is the season we’re having. Hopefully we finish the season with another title, which is what we want. I think everything went well, so the extension was simple and quick. They know what I think. For them to want to renew means a lot to me because it shows me that they understand that I’m very comfortable and happy here.”
New England and Bou will play an Eastern Conference Semifinal on Nov. 30 against either New York City FC (No. 4 seed) or Atlanta United (No. 5 seed). They’re two wins away from hosting MLS Cup on Dec. 11 at Gillette Stadium, a chance to put the club’s past five shortcomings at that stage in the dustbin.
And Bou, who’s adjusted to life stateside, hopes to reward that mutual faith with more silverware (and goals).
“I’m very happy to continue being part of this club,” Bou said. “Like I’ve said, they welcomed me and supported me from day one. To be able to extend my contract today is a very happy moment for myself and my family. Hopefully we can continue achieving big things with this club.”