The wait is finally over.
On Wednesday, Minnesota United officially announced the signing of Argentinian left-winger Franco Fragapane from the Primera División’s Club Atlético Talleres. The 28 year old Fragapane comes to Minnesota on a four year contract using Targeted Allocation Money and will take up an international roster spot.
After months of rumors and unofficial talk, the acquisition was made official after Fragapane unexpectedly, from Minnesota’s perspective, started for Talleres in their Copa Sudamerica game on Tuesday night. The Loons believed Saturday’s Copa de la Liga game to be his last. Apparently though, as reported by Andy Greder, there has been quite a bit of drama between Talleres’ ownership and coaching staff over his sale.
As with Minnesota’s other recently signed international, Adrien Hunou, who was scheduled to arrive in Minnesota late Tuesday night to begin his quarantine period, Fragapane now enters a new time of waiting as paperwork and visas are processed. The team hopes both new signings will be available against Real Salt Lake on May 29th.
More importantly, Fragapane and Hunou will be able to take advantage of the international break to train with their new teammates and offer much needed options for the Loons as Ján Greguš (Slovakia), Robin Lod (Finland), and Jukka Raitala (Finland) will miss at least the late June games against Dallas and Austin while on international duty.
Fragapane came up through the Boca Juniors youth system, although his time there did not coincide with Ramón Ábila’s or Emanuel Reynoso’s. After making his first team debut in 2012, Fragapane went on loan spending two seasons in Spain, mostly in the second division. Returning to Argentina in 2016, he seemed to find his form as a hard working and hustling attacking player with Unión Santa Fe in 2017, contributing 10 goals and 5 assists over two seasons before moving to Talleres in 2019, where he has provided 9 goals and 12 assists, with 4 of those goals coming in the last month.
Fragapane is, Head Coach Adrian Heath said, “a bundle of energy, he’s got an incredible work rate. This is something we have targeted as we have brought players in.” In this he fits a certain profile of player preferred by Heath, who believes that games are decided by effort and will. “We primarily see him playing on the left-hand side,” Heath continued, “and coming in on his right. He can dribble, he can run with the ball, he can play with other players.”
Seemingly the last of Minnesota’s big signings this window, Fragapane might be the most important considering Niko Hansen’s struggles to return from injury. Although Hassani Dotson has been a surprisingly good fill-in on the left, a testament to his soccer sense and game intelligence, his future is in the middle of the field. With Fragapane now the heir apparent on the left side of the attack, a possible long-term replacement for Kevin Molino has been found.
With the return to full health of Bakaye Dibassy, the full fitness of Ábila, and these two new signings the Loons will have a much different look by mid-summer. Hopefully it will not be too late and they will be able to overcome their historically bad start.