After four years without making a full-fledged Designated Player acquisition, Sporting Kansas City took an important step in reshaping their squad on Wednesday, announcing the signing of 25-year-old winger Gerso Fernandes as a Designated Player. Fernandes, who was signed through 2019 with an option for 2020, comes to the club via a transfer from Portuguese side C.F. Os Belenenses.
A native of Guinea-Bissau in West Africa, Fernandes has played more than 150 matches during a six-year professional career in Portugal. He has spent each of the last five seasons in the Portuguese first division, including the 2016-17 Primeira Liga campaign with Belenenses.
“Gerso is a player who has been on our radar over the past few years,” Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes said in a statement released by the club. “Once he became available during this window, acquiring him became a priority for us. He is a dynamic winger that can play on either side of the field and the fact that he played a similar formation to ours in Portugal will only help his transition into our team.”
Fernandes, a left-footed winger, has started nine of 14 Primeira Liga appearances for Belenenses since August, recording four assists as well as the game-winning goal against Maritimo on Dec. 10. He also contributed one assist in three domestic cup matches, featuring in the 2016-17 Taça de Portugal and the 2016-17 Taça da Liga.
Prior to joining Belenenses this summer, Fernandes appeared more than 100 times for Estoril between 2011-2016. He helped clinch promotion to the Primera Liga in his first year with the club, playing 21 matches en route to the 2011-12 Segunda Liga title. He facilitated Estoril’s transition to the top flight over the next two seasons, recording four assists in 43 Primera Liga appearances and playing six games in the 2013-14 UEFA Europa League group stage.
Fernandes went on loan to Moreirense for the 2014-15 campaign, netting a career-high six goals in all competitions while leading the newly promoted club to an 11th place finish in the 18-team Primeira Liga. He returned to Estoril the following year, notching two goals and four assists while starting 30 league matches during the 2015-16 season.