FC Cincinnati has officially announced the signing of defender Santiago Arias on a one-year deal. The deal for the Colombian and former Atlético de Madrid player also has an option included in the deal for 2024.
Since signing for Sporting CP (Lisbon) in 2011, the 31-year-old fullback made nearly 300 appearances at clubs like PSV Eindhoven, Atlético de Madrid, Bayer 04 Leverkusen and Granada CF. In those appearances, Arias scored 13 goals, tallied 31 assists in just under 24,000 minutes.
A majority of Arias’ professional career was with PSV Eindhoven, where he played in 172 matches for the Dutch side. In his tenure with PSV, he also played in 10 Champions League matches. While with PSV Eindhoven, Arias was named as the Eredivisie Player of the Year in the 2017-18 season.
“Santi brings an enormous amount of experience and ability to FC Cincinnati,” Chris Albright, FCC general manager, said. “His defensive instincts, character, and overall quality is a welcome addition to the group and I’d like to welcome him and his family to Cincinnati.”
In his time with the Colombian national team, Arias made 54 caps for the team, as well as five for the U20 team and seven for the U17 team.
Arias will compete with returning starter Alvas Powell (28 games played/24 starts) and veteran Ray Gaddis (23 games played/11 starts) for time at right back. While both Powell and Gaddis exceeded expectations in 2022, the right back role was thought to be a position to be upgraded in 2023.
The Colombian will offer more creativity on the right allowing different options to create chances for the Orange and Blue. He is more of a “complete” player than both returnees, but will likely be able to ease into a role following injuries which made him miss the majority of his past two seasons.
Arias could be a risky signing for FCC with his injury history. However, it is a move that you can take knowing that you have two skilled veterans to supplement time on the right flank. Should Arias remain healthy for this season, he could easily become one of the best right backs in MLS.