Fernando Clavijo is breathing a little bit easier this week.
On Thursday, the club was able to finally announce the acquisition of Paraguayan forward Cristian Colman for a record transfer fee bringing to rest a process that started quite a long time ago.
“He’s been on our radar for the whole season in 2016…but his current club was not willing to do anything,” said Clavijo. “So we were aware, but he wasn’t really in the market.”
The market Clavijo is speaking of is the hyper-competitive world of elite forwards. It’s been no secret that FCD has been looking for another #9 to add to the attack and after some near-misses over the last year, they’ve finally locked down a forward that was heavily chased by some of the biggest teams in the world including Sao Paulo and Leon.
“When we looked at the player, we saw someone different from Maxi [Urruti] who can definitely play up top alone or with Maxi or Tesho. Inside the box, he’s a finisher and that’s what we’re looking for,” said Clavijo. “He’s very intelligent with his movement, can finish with both feet and is good in the air. I’m excited about this.”
The process of signing Colman was one that Clavijo called “probably the most stressful signing I’ve had with the team.”
Clavijo made the initial trip to Paraguay when offering the player, but after that he said he was in contact with Colman’s agent multiple times a day. There were reports that the player was being heavily recruited by other major teams, but Clavijo never wavered.
“Every day that we were getting closer [to signing], you still read a lot of articles that aren’t necessarily true saying the player doesn’t want to come and it scares the [Expletive] out of you,” said Clavijo.
Colman’s signing is the second-straight offseason that FC Dallas has added a marquee young South American player who had suitors around the globe following the addition of Ecuadorian international Carlos Gruezo. Every time Clavijo adds another name like this to the roster, he proudly notes how it signals the further development of a league he has seen grow from day one.
“I said it to Clark [Hunt] and [Commissioner Don Garber], for me going out there I don’t have to sell the league any more like I used to. I don’t have to simply sell it’s just a better way of living – which it still is – but it isn’t the only tool I have anymore,” said Clavijo. “Today, we are a competitive league with good players coming in and a lot of people want to come to the United States to play. Some reasons are still the same like security and financial but it’s a better league. It’s more exposure and they know from here people can use it [to further their career].”
Clavijo said he believes the addition of Colman gives FC Dallas their deepest roster since he joined the team and further signals the philosophy of the club to build from youth both at home and internationally.
“It is big for the club and I think it is showing what we do. In the beginning, it was only us who knew our plan and now the league is noticing and now I think outside the league people are noticing us,” said Clavijo. “Hopefully, we keep growing with this and attracting young players. Colman is 22 years old. [We have] Chala, Gruezo, Kellyn, we’re talking about a really young team for a long time and hopefully the idea is two or three years and then the process again begins and at the end of the day we all benefit.”