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Chicago Fire FC Acquires Belgian Forward Hugo Cuypers as Designated Player for Club-Record Fee

February 6, 2024 - Major League Soccer (MLS)
Chicago Fire FC News Release

CHICAGO - Chicago Fire FC today announced that it has acquired forward Hugo Cuypers (KAI-pers) as a Designated Player via transfer from Belgian first division side K.A.A Gent. The transfer marks the largest acquisition fee in Club history.

As part of the transfer agreement, Cuypers' contract with the Fire will begin on Feb. 16 and will run through 2026 with an option for 2027. He will occupy an international spot on the Fire's roster, pending a medical and receipt of his P-1 Visa and International Transfer Certificate (ITC).

Additionally, to celebrate the Club's acquisition of Cuypers as a Designated Player, the Fire will offer discounted tickets starting at $9 for the team's home opener against 2023 MLS Supporters' Shield winners, FC Cincinnati, at Soldier Field on Saturday, March 2. Tickets will be available for a limited time only, beginning at 1:00 p.m. CT today, and can be purchased.

"We're thrilled to officially welcome Hugo Cuypers to the Club," said Chicago Fire FC Sporting Director Georg Heitz. "We have been very focused on acquiring a striker in the prime of their career with a proven track record of scoring goals in a very competitive league. Hugo has been one of the leading goal-scorers in the Belgian first division over the last few seasons, and despite receiving interest from other teams, he had a very strong desire to join the Fire and help us achieve our goal of becoming one of the top clubs in MLS. Additionally, this deal would not have been possible without the continued commitment from ownership to invest heavily throughout all areas of the Club. We are confident that Hugo will be a game-changing addition to our team, and we look forward to having him in Chicago for the start of the 2024 MLS season."

Cuypers, 26, joins the Fire from the Jupiler Pro League in Belgium, where he spent the last three seasons. During that stretch, Cuypers was one of the most productive strikers in the league, notching 64 goals and 25 assists in 126 matches played across all competitions. In the 2022-23 campaign, Cuypers earned Jupiler Pro League Golden Boot honors after leading the league with 34 goals in 56 appearances across all competitions, including 20 goals in 33 league matches.

The striker also added seven goals in six Jupiler Pro League Playoffs contests and six goals in 11 UEFA Europa Conference League matches during the campaign. In his second season with Gent, Cuypers registered 17 goals and six assists in 34 matches across all competitions in the 2023-24 campaign, including 10 goals in 11 matches played in European fixtures. With seven goals in the Europa Conference League qualifiers in 2023-24, Cuypers is currently ranked tied for the most goals in the competition this season.

A native of Liège, Belgium, Cuypers originally began his professional career with Standard Liège in the Belgian topflight and made his debut at the senior level on April 3, 2016. The striker also featured for RFC Seraing, Ergotelis F.C., AC Ajaccio, and Olympiacos in the Greece first division, where he helped the team win the 2020-21 league title, before returning to Belgium to join KV Mechelen. In his lone season with KV Mechelen, Cuypers notched 13 goals and eight assists in 29 Jupiler Pro League matches in 2021-22 before signing with K.A.A. Gent.

Transaction: Chicago Fire FC acquires forward Hugo Cuypers as a Designated Player via transfer from K.A.A Gent for a Club-record fee. As part of the transfer agreement, Cuypers' contract with the Fire will begin on Feb. 16 and will run through 2026 with an option for 2027.

Name: Hugo Cuypers (KAI-pers)

Position: Forward

Height: 6'1"

Weight: 165 lbs.

Date of Birth: Feb. 7, 1997

Hometown: Liège, Belgium

Birthplace: Liège, Belgium

Citizenship: Belgium

Last Club: K.A.A. Gent

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