Minnesota United moved quickly Tuesday after it finally signed Argentine attacking midfielder Emanuel “Bebelo” Reynoso as its third and final designated player after pursing him for eight months.
It secured his FIFA International Transfer Certificate by business day’s end, watched his 10-day quarantine period pass Tuesday evening and planned to have him aboard the team’s Houston-bound charter flight Wednesday morning.
All of it is intended to get the club’s record transfer — $5 million, according to a source — on the field as a substitute Wednesday against the Houston Dynamo, a team that includes former Loons Darwin Quintero and Christian Ramirez.
Minnesota United is wasting no time with a gifted young player in whom it has already invested so much time and now money.
“He’ll be straight in with the group because it’s important we integrate him as quickly as possible,” Loons coach Adrian Heath said.
The Tuesday announcement concluded long, complicated negotiations dating at least to early January. Along the way the Loons survived a pandemic shutdown and a Brazilian team offering Reynoso’s Boca Juniors team, and particularly Reynoso himself, more money late in the talks.
He has left his soccer-crazed country’s most storied franchise and its famed 54,000-capacity “Bombonera” stadium for MLS, Minnesota and a United team that targeted him last winter as the player it most sought to add during the offseason.
The Loons sent technical director Mark Watson to Buenos Aires on two trips totaling three weeks in January and February. They never stopped their recruiting during negotiations, which seemed done and dead more than once.
In a Zoom video news conference, Reynoso, 24, called himself “really excited” and thanked “everybody” for the warm welcome he has received in Minnesota. He already has posted an Instagram video from the Mall of America and lakeside in Wayzata.
He is the latest in a growing list of South American and Argentine players to play in MLS. Among the many are his former youth-soccer and Boca Juniors teammate Cristian Pavon, and Diego Valeri, Sebastian Blanco and Pity Martinez.
Reynoso said Loons management’s persistence and passion in its pursuit convinced him the time was right to make a “good change” for himself.
“I came here because the club showed a lot of interest in me,” he said in Spanish through an interpreter on the video call. “Not just Mark, but Adrian as well. Their pursuit showed how much they wanted me here, to be a part of this club. That made me really excited to be here. That’s what I chose to come here.”
MLS’ growth in size and skill didn’t hurt, either. He called it a “league that really intrigued me.”
Heath compared Reynoso’s talent and potential to that of Valeri, Blanco and others.
“That gives you an idea the feeling we have in this kind of player,” Heath said, “so the sooner we can get him on the field in the right condition, the better for everybody.”
Reynoso hasn’t played a game since March, when his Boca Juniors team and Argentina’s federation shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Owing to his quarantine period, he hasn’t trained with his new teammates since arriving in Minnesota on Aug. 22.
“We’re excited about getting him involved with this group.” Heath said.
Reynoso won’t start Wednesday’s game because of such a long pandemic pause, Heath said. He has trained on his own at the team’s Blaine facility daily while he went through quarantine.
“We’ll have to be very careful and aware what we do with him in terms of minutes because he hasn’t played in a long time,” Heath said. “He has trained hard since he has been with us, but no amount of training can replicate the cut and thrust of a proper game.
“I would like to think we can get him some minutes [Wednesday], depending how the game goes. Certainly, I want him integrating into soccer sooner rather than later, if I can.”