FC Cincinnati's revolution under GM Gerard Nijkamp continued on Wednesday, when the club announced the acquisition of Argentine youth international winger Alvaro Barreal from Velez. Since he over a little more than a year ago, the club have turned over a number of key players as Nijkamp and his staff continue to mold the squad to fit their vision.
Barreal, the club's second acquisition of the summer after midfielder Kamohelo Mokotjo, is a dynamic 20-year-old wide attacker who graduated from Velez's academy and made 18 appearances in the first team before continuing his career in Cincy. He won't be rushed into the starting lineup — whenever he receives his visa and completes mandatory quarantine before joining first team training, of course — but the minutes will be there when he's ready.
“We will bring him slowly, but we know the potential," Nijkamp told reporters during a virtual press conference on Wednesday. "If the moment is there, good enough is old enough, I always say. He has to show that to the coaching staff.”
Nijkamp pointed to Barreal's dribbling and technical ability that make him stand out, as well as his pace both on and off the ball.
“We’re very confident he can make the next step at our club," Nijkamp said.
Barreal first came onto Cincy's radar as a potential acquisition in the winter. The club explored the possibility, but Velez slapped a price tag on the player that was far above Cincy's valuation. So they continued elsewhere this winter but were sure to keep tabs on the player.
This summer, Cincy appointed Jaap Stam as the club's head coach. The former Dutch international defender has had experience managing in the Netherlands and he, like Nijkamp, is well connected in his home country. Through those connections, he found Barreal was available for a lower fee as he became a name floated around Dutch clubs and agents.
Cincy went back to film, they went back to advanced data and found a deal could be reached. Reports out of Argentina suggest the fee was a more manageable $1.7 million with a 25% sell-on fee. Nijkamp didn't specify the numbers and denied the $1.7 million figure, though said it was something around there. He didn't specify what the sell-on fee is but did acknowledge that Velez still have a financial stake in the player.
Velez's stance softened as Barreal's contract entered its final year, meaning on January 1, he would have been able to sign a pre-contract with another club and depart Velez for free.
"He comes from a very strong league," Nijkamp said. "At 20-years-old, playing 18 matches for Velez and was also selected for the U-20 national team, there's a lot of potential in this player. We did the process in a good way, finding data and also following our football heart. You can see he's a really talented player."