Khaly Thiam - Chicago Fire - on his arrival from Hungary
Courtesy of Chicago Fire

Chicago Fire complete loan signing of Senegalese midfielder Khaly Thiam

The Chicago Fire completed the acquisition of new signing Khaly Thiam on Wednesday, announcing the Senegalese midfielder's arrival on loan from Hungarian side MTK Budapest, pending receipt of his ITC and P1 Visa.

Thiam, 22, arrived in Chicago this week to undergo a medical and physical evaluation and is scheduled to join Fire training on Thursday.

As part of his signing, the Fire acquired the Discovery Priority on Thiam from Columbus Crew SC in exchange for Chicago's 2017 natural second round SuperDraft pick. However, if Thiam starts in 12 or more 2016 MLS regular-season games, or if his loan is extended or successfully converted into a transfer following the 2016 season, Columbus will receive General Allocation Money instead of the SuperDraft pick.

"Khaly has a wide skill set that we believe will prove complementary to our current group," said Fire general manager Nelson Rodríguez in a statement. "He is good in possession, an effective ball winner and gets forward quite well. Importantly, he has a deep desire to triumph."

Thiam helped MTK Budapest to a fourth-place finish in the Nemzeti Bajnoksag I, Hungary's top flight league, and he has been cited as a target of Chicago's for more than a month. On Monday, MTK announced on their website that Thiam had been loaned to the Fire, and Chicago head coach Veljko Paunovic discussed the player's arrival in his weekly media conference call. 

"The addition of Thiam is very important for us to increase our competitiveness with all his qualities," Paunovic told reporters. "He's very good on the ball, very good on aerial duels and his presence on the field is very important. With him, we will increase our competitiveness in the team and of course with the rest of the league."

The Fire have a quality defensive midfielder already in Matt Polster, who Paunovic said is expected to receive the all-clear from injury by the end of this week, but there will be room for both Polster and Thiam, who is also predominately a defensive midfielder.

"[Thiam] can play in different positions in the midfield. He can play in different systems," Paunovic said. "We've been using a 4-2-3-1 as our standard system and he can play either beneath, together with another midfielder, or we can also switch to 4-3-3 or 3-5-2. That quality he has of being adaptable and able to play in different systems and roles is something we value a lot."

Last month Rodriguez teased the addition of two more signings. With Thiam apparently one of those signings, the other has long been rumored to be Dutch striker Michael de Leeuw, who currently plays for FC Groningen. Asked by MLSSoccer.com on Monday about De Leeuw, Paunovic declined to confirm the reports and said the second signing is not close enough to comment on.

"We are working on finishing -- of course, we need a goalscorer," said Paunovic. "But we will talk about it when the time comes."