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Brenner likely to remain with FC Cincinnati after winter window closes

Following reports of interest abroad, Brenner looks to be staying in the Queen City until at least the Summer transfer window. Transfer periods in England, Spain, Germany, France and Italy all closed on Tuesday, exhausting the most likely destinations for the forward.

FC Cincinnati saw bids for the Brazilian come in from Premier League club Nottingham Forest and Serie A mainstay Udinese Calcio, but the MLS side was unable to complete a transfer that made sense for all parties.

The forward arrived in Cincinnati in February 2021 on a $13 million transfer from Brazilian Serie A club Sao Paulo FC on a contract through the 2025 season.

The transfer, which could reach $15 million if incentives are met, ranked as the third highest in league history behind Pity Martinez and Ezequiel Barco, both of Atlanta United. As part of the deal, Sao Paulo retained 20% of the forward’s rights on future sales.

Replacing Brenner could have been a daunting challenge due to MLS roster rules. FCC would be limited in what type of player they acquire as the Brazilian was listed as a ‘Young Designated Player’ (YDP).

As a YDP, which includes players under the age of 23, Brenner accounted for a lower charge ($200,000) on the club’s salary budget. An advantage to having a YDP is that clubs with two senior DPs and a YDP are allowed to sign three U-22 designation players (ex. Barreal, Angulo, Vallecilla and Atanga) instead of one U-22 otherwise.

Some of the leaked offers involved Brenner being loaned before a purchase would be made. This would make things tricky for FCC general manager Chris Albright. He would be limited in finding a replacement having only around $200,000 extra in roster spend. FCC would likely not be able to bring in a DP until certain metrics were met with the sale of Brenner. That situation would limit FCC’s on-field prospects through the Summer.

Due to the amount of Brenner’s incoming transfer to FCC, according to a league source, the team who would take Brenner on loan before the sale would not only have to offset his salary but also a large sum of the amortized transfer fee. It is possible that a loan fee of about $1-2 million could have been required on top of his salary to remove the DP designation.

It is important that any move benefits both parties, so a full transfer (sale) would likely be the only avenue for FC Cincinnati if these league policies are accurate.

Brenner has made 64 appearances in two seasons with FC Cincy, including 57 starts. His 2021 season was a disappointment, as he only scored eight goals in 33 starts. Transfer rumors swirled in the Spring of 2022, but Brenner stayed for what was a career-best season.

After reporting to FCC late due to paperwork issues, Brenner ended up scoring 18 goals and tallying six assists in 24 starts to clinch the club’s first-ever playoff berth.

On the field, Brenner had a knack for scoring in streaks including three “hat-tricks” and a total of 5 multi-goal matches in 2022. His relationship with playmaker Lucho Acosta was evident since the beginning with both players interplaying well with one another. Later in 2022, Brenner and forward Brandon Vazquez also connected well with the latter assisting on 3 of the Brazilian’s final 10 goals.

FC Cincinnati is in a win-now mode and his inclusion for at least the first half of the season will be huge for the club. Brenner is a critical part of the offense and he will need to continue to score to catch the eye of clubs in Europe. A sale this summer seems to be the best option for both the player and the club.

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