The Union’s mostly quiet offseason exploded to life Tuesday when word got out that the team is in negotiations to sign Mexican national team star Marco Fabián.
ESPN was first to report the news, and a source confirmed it to the Inquirer and Daily News a little while later.
If the deal gets done, the Union would land one of the biggest names they’ve ever signed. Fabián has played 42 times for Mexico, including World Cup appearances in 2014 and 2018. He has been with German club Eintracht Frankfurt since 2016. The 29-year-old is an attacking playmaker who can create and score, and will more than fill the gap left by Borek Dockal’s departure.
Fabián spent the first eight years of his career in the Mexican league, delivering 64 goals and 39 assists in 267 games. Seven of those years were at Chivas of Guadalajara. During a one-year loan to Cruz Azul in 2014, he helped the team win the Concacaf Champions League. With Mexico, he won a 2012 Olympics gold medal and played at the 2015 Copa América.
In late 2015, Eintracht bought Fabián from Chivas for a $4 million transfer fee. He had three assists in the second half of the 2015-16 Bundesliga season, then in 2016-17 delivered seven goals and four assists in 27 games.
But that campaign was complicated by back problems, and in the summer of 2017, they grew worse. Fabián didn’t play in the 2017-18 season until early February. It turned out he had suffered a fracture in his back, and had to undergo spinal disc surgery. He nearly quit playing because of the pain. But he was able to recover, and by the summer of 2018 was in good enough form to play at the World Cup in Russia.
Late in the summer, Fabián was on the verge of a move to Turkish club Fenerbahçe, until it suddenly fell apart. Reports in Turkey said Fabián had failed a medical exam because of lingering complications from the back injury. But he and Eintracht’s sporting director vehemently denied that, saying it was a matter of money and contract terms.
Regardless of who was right, Fabián hasn’t had regular playing time since that move fell apart, and the team has remained willing to move him. He has made just two appearances for Eintracht this season, the campaign-opening SuperCup game and one Bundesliga contest.
Fabián has remained a regular with Mexico, though, playing in friendlies late last year against Chile and Argentina.
Last month, German newspaper Bild reported that Fabián had offers from clubs in China, Spain and the United Arab Emirates. There was also reportedly interest from the Miami MLS expansion team backed by David Beckham that will kick off in 2020.
It’s unknown whether the Union will pay a transfer fee for Fabián, or whether Eintracht would let him out of his contract. Given the foreign interest, it’s hard to believe Eintracht would let him go for free. The biggest transfer fee the Union has ever paid is $1 million for Alejandro Bedoya in 2016.