It’s official. The Portland Timbers today announced their signing of Brian Fernandez to a Designated Player contract after paying a club-record transfer fee to Club Necaxa in Mexico. The club used TAM to buy down Lucas Melano’s contract in order to free up the DP slot he had previously been occupying.
At 24, Fernandez already has over 130 professional appearances in top-flight leagues in France, Chile, Argentina, and Mexico. At Necaxa, Fernandez led his team with 18 goals and 5 assists in 32 appearances since joining the side in July of last year. Most recently, in the 2019 Liga MX Clausura regular season, the Argentine was second in the league in goals scored with 12 in 15 appearances.
“We are delighted to sign a player of Brian Fernández’ caliber, at a stage in his career where we feel he is already a proven player yet still has his best years in front of him and room to grow as a player,” said Gavin Wilkinson, general manager and president of soccer for the Timbers. “Brian has demonstrated the ability to overcome adversity during his career and his commitment to the game, his family and his belief in his ability has helped him develop into an exciting, highly skilled attacking threat with very good clubs in multiple leagues. He is a quality player and will add a different look to our team, and we are thrilled to welcome him to Portland.”
While the exact transfer fee paid by Portland hasn’t been officially disclosed, The Oregonian’s Jamie Goldberg is reporting that the fee was under the $10-12 million range initially reported out of Mexico. The previous club-record fee was around $5 million, with the fees for Lucas Melano and Sebastian Blanco having been near that number.
The Timbers paid a club record transfer fee to acquire Fernandez. Several reports out of Mexico indicated that the fee was in the $10-12 million range. It's my impression that the fee was less than the range being reported, but still definitely a club record #RCTID #MLS— Jamie Goldberg (@Jamiebgoldberg) May 6, 2019
“We are very pleased to welcome Brian Fernández to our team,” said Giovanni Savarese, head coach of the Timbers. “Brian is a player who possesses many different attacking qualities that can cause issues for the opposition. He has shown the ability to unlock defenses and score goals in a variety of ways throughout his career, and, while we view him as a forward with our immediate group, his versatility and ability to play in different positions and systems gives us further tactical flexibility and options.”
Fernandez played mainly as a right winger in a 4-4-2 while at Necaxa, so Savarese’s statement that they view him primarily as a forward seems to indicate that the Timbers will primarily look to play him up top, as opposed to on the wing. With Jeremy Ebobisse and Diego Valeri having consistently occupied those forward slots in Savarese’s 4-4-2, it will be interesting to see what changes Savarese makes in order to get Fernandez into the starting XI.
Reports have indicated that Fernandez might be available as early as this Friday’s match against the Vancouver Whitecaps, but Savarese rarely throws new signings into games so quickly after arriving at the club.