Transfer Tracker

Chicago Fire acquire midfielder Ousmane Doumbia from FC Lugano

Ousmane Doumba transfer Chicago Fire


UPDATE (June 28) – Chicago Fire FC have signed midfielder Ousmane Doumbia on loan from Swiss Super League side FC Lugano, the club announced Wednesday.

The 31-year-old Ivory Coast native will be with Chicago through the end of the 2023 MLS season with a purchase option. Doumbia is not expected to stay a DP in Chicago if he remains beyond this year, according to a source.

“We’re very pleased to welcome Ousmane to the club,” Chicago sporting director Georg Heitz said in a release. “He is a highly talented and versatile player with a skillset well-suited for this league, and his addition will immediately bring more quality and leadership to the squad. We look forward to welcoming him to Chicago very soon as we strive to achieve our goals in 2023.”

Doumbia has played 43 matches for FC Lugano (40 starts) across all competitions, registering three goals and three assists as a defensive midfielder. Prior to playing with FC Lugano, Doumbia played in 65 regular-season matches and three Swiss Cup matches for FC Zurich from 2020-22, where he helped lead the team to its first league title in 13 years in 2022.

While at Lugano, Doumbia led the Swiss Super League among all players in tackles (84) and was sixth in the league in combined tackles and interceptions (141). His 63% tackle rate placed him first among all starting center midfielders in the Swiss Super League, and he was also second among all starting center midfielders in aerial win rate (65%).

ORIGINAL (June 24) – Chicago Fire FC are finalizing a deal to acquire midfielder Ousmane Doumbia from Swiss Super League side FC Lugano, according to a report from _The Athletic_’s Tom Bogert.

The 31-year-old Ivory Coast native would occupy the Fire’s open Designated Player roster spot, per Bogert, a technicality to maintain salary cap and roster flexibility for potential future moves.

A source adds Doumbia would join Chicago on loan through the end of the 2023 MLS season with a purchase option, which the club would likely exercise for 2024. At that point, Doumbia is expected to no longer occupy a DP slot.

The Fire could formally add Doumbia to their roster when the league's Secondary Transfer Window opens. It spans from July 5 to Aug. 2.

Doumbia's fit

Doumbia would arrive in Chicago with two goals and 10 assists in 100 Swiss Super League appearances for FC Zurich and FC Lugano. He helped Zurich win a league title in 2021-22.

Doumbia, who can play in a defensive or box-to-box role, would complement Gastón Giménez, Jairo Torres and Federico Navarro in the Fire’s midfield. Torres is one of Chicago’s two other DPs alongside attacking midfielder and Swiss star Xherdan Shaqiri.

Doumbia's addition would continue player movement between Chicago and Lugano, which share an owner in Joe Mansueto. The Fire currently have winger Maren Haile-Selassie on loan from the Swiss club, while defender Jhon Espinoza went from the MLS side to Europe last winter.

Big picture

Earlier in 2023, reporting indicated Chicago intended to use their open DP spot on a striker. However, the club has amassed some No. 9 depth with Kei Kamara, Kacper Przybyłko and Georgios Koutsias. Both Koutsias and Navarro are U22 Initiative signings.

Chicago are led by head coach Frank Klopas, who took over in early May after the club parted ways with Ezra Hendrickson. Entering Matchday 21, the Fire are just below the Eastern Conference’s ninth and final Audi MLS Cup Playoffs spot.