Following initial reports of international interest for FC Cincinnati forward Brenner, the club announced the transfer of Brazilian designated player to Serie A club Udinese Calcio Wednesday.
Brenner had been linked with moves to the Italian club and English Premier League club Nottingham Forest in January prior to the 2023 MLS season. This transaction will become official when the FIFA transfer window opens in Italy on July 1st. Brenner will remain with FCC until the end of June.
While the club did not release financial specifics of the move, it was reported by Tom Bogert of the Athletic that the move would be for at least $10 million plus add-on bonuses and a sell-on percentage. Laurel Pfahler of Queen City Press reported additional specifics of the deal.
The forward arrived to Cincinnati in February 2021 on a $13 million transfer from Brazilian Serie A club Sao Paulo FC. His incoming transfer fee ranked as the third highest in league history behind Pity Martinez and Ezequiel Barco, both of Atlanta United.
While the club has not immediately recouped all of the Brazilian’s purchase price, the fee will still rank as one of the top 10 sales in league history.
The move makes sense for all parties. It allows Brenner to continue toward his European goals and shows that FCC are a capable developmental club for future players. Including future moves for Alvaro Barreal and Brandon Vazquez, FCC should be made whole on their recent expenditures and sales.
Brenner has made 72 total appearances in two+ seasons with FC Cincy including 63 starts. His 2021 season was a disappointment with the forward only scoring 8 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 would score 18 goals and log 6 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 on-field relationship with playmaker Lucho Acosta was evident since the beginning with both players inter-playing well with one another. Later in 2022, Brenner and forward Brandon Vazquez also connected well with the later assisting on 3 of the Brazilians final 10 goals.
“We’re extremely happy for Brenner that he’s able to make this move and play in one of the biggest leagues in Europe,” said Chris Albright, FC Cincinnati general manager in the club’s release. “Our ultimate goal at FC Cincinnati is to win games for our incredible fans, and we understand that developing players is central to attracting the best talent. This is a significant transfer for our club and is a testament to everything our staff has done in the past year and a half. Our ownership will continue to give us the resources to compete and this transfer only adds to that commitment.”
This move will free up an important Designated Player spot on the FCC roster. Due to MLS roster rules, FCC could be limited in what type of player they acquire to replace Brenner. The Brazilian was listed as a ‘Young Designated Player’ (YDP) which includes players under the age of 23. As a YDP, Brenner accounted for a lower charge ($200,000) on the club’s salary budget and allowed FCC to sign three U-22 designation players (ex. Barreal, Angulo, Vallecilla and Atanga).
Per the club’s website, they currently have two U-22 designation players in Barreal and Marco Angulo. Should FCC sign a third senior DP the club would only be allowed one U-22 player mechanism player. Barreal’s roster budget charge will have to change with more of his salary and transfer fee ($1.5 million +) accounted for should he not be sold and a senior DP be brought in.
FCC will have to wait until the Summer transfer period which will open on July 5th. Should FCC bring in a new DP in the Summer window, that DP would hit the club’s salary budget at a reduced rate.
If Cincinnati do not bring in another forward to replace Brenner, former Philadelphia forward Sergio Santos and 2022 free agent Dom Badji will likely battle for the starting spot next to USMNT forward Brandon Vazquez. Another wrinkle in the forward battle could be homegrown signee Arquimides “Quimi” Ordoñez who impressed in parts during last season and has had a strong start in the 2023 MLS Next Pro campaign.
***This story will be updated with more details of the transaction