The Fire return to full training next Monday after taking a week off during MLS' "Copa America break". One player that is not likely to be back at Toyota Park with the squad is Brazilian forward and Designated Player Gilberto.
Following last Saturday's 1-1 draw with the Portland Timbers, coach Veljko Paunovic told media that Gilberto had asked for personal time off two days before the match and permission was granted for the player to take a leave. Paunovic added that Gilberto was expected to return with his teammates on June 6 following the break.
Fire Confidential has learned that the club is now in the process of negotiating a departure and possible buy out of the remaining portion of a contract that expires after this season. It appears that Gilberto has played his last match in Chicago.
How the move would impact the team's current budget is a concern. MLS roster rules state that "a club may buy out one player who has a Guaranteed Contract (including a DP’s) during the offseason and free up the corresponding budget space. Such a buyout is at the MLS club’s expense."
The rules and regulations also outline the penalty for a buy-out scenario during the season stating, "A club may not free up room in the salary budget with a buyout of a player’s contract during the season. In the case a team buys out a player’s contract during the season, the buyout amount will be charged against the club’s salary budget."
The Fire are pressing the fast-forward button on Gilberto's eventual departure since it seemed very unlikely that he would be back in 2017. Getting that done now however, doesn't give them room to pursue a player of comparable stature or salary this season.
Nelson Rodriguez's plan of being active in the coming January window rather than this summer seems to be in motion.
Gilberto appeared in ten games last season after being claimed off waivers as the consolation prize for losing out on Didier Drogba. He scored 5 goals and added 2 assists in those ten appearances. This year has been a disaster for him as he continued to battle through minor knocks. He failed to score and assisted twice in 9 appearances this season.