Even with the summer transfer market in a state of uncertainty around the globe due to the COVID-19 pandemic, FC Dallas have no worries about their arranged deal to sign forward Franco Jara as a Designated Player in July.
Jara, currently with CF Pachuca in Liga MX, signed a pre-contract agreement to join Dallas when his contract expires at the end of May. He was set to be added to their roster July 7 when the Secondary Transfer Window opened. But with Liga MX on hold like the overwhelming majority of leagues across the world, a number of scenarios could put Jara's starting date in flux.
Would Jara be allowed to leave Pachuca if Liga MX returns to play and the season doesn't wrap before his contract expires? Will FIFA recommend altering the start and shut dates to the transfer window to accommodate leagues finishing late? As those questions and others swirl, Dallas are working under the premise that their No. 9 will soon arrive.
"Nothing has changed," technical director Andre Zanotta told MLSsoccer.com. "As of now, it’s the same plan. His contract (with Pachuca) is due to expire at the end of May and our contract with him starts on July 1. We’re expecting him here by the summer."
Pachuca haven't contacted Dallas about Jara.
“I haven’t spoke with the club, we haven’t reached out to Pachuca and they haven’t reached out to us," Zanotta said. "But we’re in constant contact with Franco, so is (head coach) Luchi (Gonzalez). We just want to see what he’s doing and remain in contact like the rest of our players, but we don’t talk about contract issues with him.”
Jara, who turns 32 this summer, played for the likes of Benfica, Granada, Estudiantes and Olympiakos before joining Pachuca. Jara has been a consistent scorer in Liga MX, with 82 goals and 19 assists in 167 appearances. He has 15 goals in 26 matches so far this season.
It remains to be seen if he'll make another appearance for Pachuca. If Liga MX extends their season past when his contract expires and FIFA recommends a course of action, he may stay. But not all leagues across the globe are coming back, as Belgium opted to end their season amid the pandemic.
“We know that the FIFA task force has made some recommendations about contracts ending in May, June that could be extended if the federation has a new end date for the season," Zanotta said. "But as for now, we haven’t heard anything from the Mexican federation. That’s why we’re hoping the plan will remain the same.”
The Colorado Rapids also have a deal pending for the summer, when Argentine winger Braian Galvan is set to join as a free agent, similar to Jara's deal. Colorado declined to comment about that status.
If MLS returns before Jara joins, Dallas will be well covered up top. In Gonzalez's system that often uses just one out-and-out center forward, FCD can choose from Zdenek Ondrasek, Ricardo Pepi, Jesus Ferreira or even Fafa Picault.
“We’re very happy with the players we have," Zanotta said. "Kobra had an amazing second half of the season last year and started this year really well. Pepi, after being in the team environment for one year, we feel he’s matured even more and is ready to help us more this season. We also have Fafa, who played as a false nine in preseason. We have players that can play in that position if there’s any issues. We know they’ll step up.”
Ondrasek started the club's first two matches of 2020 before the season suspension, in which he had two goals and an assist. Since August of last year, the Czech striker has nine goals in nine appearances. Pepi enjoyed a stellar season with FC North Texas, the club's USL League One affiliate, leading to him joining the first team during the year. The 17-year-old is regarded as one of the top US attacking prospects.
Soon, Jara will join that brigade.