Confirming earlier reports from Fabrizio Romano and others, FC Cincinnati announced the official signing of Aaron Boupendza from Saudi Arabian side Al-Shabab for an estimated $7 million fee.
The news release from FCC stated that the new Designated Player’s contract will run to 2025 with options for 2026 and 2027. Boupendza is currently on international duty with the Gabonese National Team for 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying.
FC Cincinnati are closing in on deal to sign Gabon international striker Aaron Boupendza. 🇺🇸🇬🇦 #MLS
Fee above $7m, deal being completed soon. pic.twitter.com/T90eSGq1w9
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) June 8, 2023
“We’re delighted to have Aaron join FC Cincinnati,” Chris Albright, FC Cincinnati General Manager, said in the club’s release. “He’s a skillful and dynamic forward with a proven goal scoring record and an ability to play multiple positions in the attack. He chose to come to Cincinnati in the prime of his career and his international and European experience will be extremely valuable to our group. Beyond his talent, Aaron is also a player of strong personality and character who will fit in with the culture of our group. I’d like to welcome him to Cincinnati.”
Should all paperwork and registration documents be completed, Boupendza may be eligible for his first selection on Saturday July 8th at Charlotte FC.
The 26 year old recently finished the 2022/23 year with Al-Shabab in the Saudi Pro League, with one appearance early in the season with Al Arbi in the Qatar Stars League. In this past season, the striker picked up 11 goals and 3 assists in 17 appearances and just under 1,250 minutes. This season, Boupendza also participated in three matches in Arab Champions Cup qualifying and scored twice in 245 minutes of play.
Boupendza’s best season of his career so far was in the 2020/21 season with Hatayspor in the Turkish Süper Lig. In this breakout season for the forward, he scored 22 goals and tallied one assist in 36 matches, with almost 2,500 minutes played.
Since coming on the scene in the 2015/16 season with CF Mounana of Gabon, Boupendza has played over 1,000 minutes only four times in his career. He has only made over 20 appearances twice in a season.
Despite the small sample size in terms of matches played per season, Boupendza has appeared in 138 matches in all competitions, with 63 goals scored overall and 13 assists.
According to Transfermarkt, Boupendza has made the same number of appearances at left-wing and center-forward with 34 apiece. The Gabonese international has scored the most from the left wing where he has had 20 goals and six assists. At the center-forward position, he has scored eight times and had two assists. It also said he’s made 23 appearances on the right wing, where he scored another 16 times and assisted three times. Transfermarkt does list his primary position as center-forward, despite his positional variety.
Boupendza has also represented his country of Gabon multiple times. Transfermarkt said that he has made 28 appearances for his national team overall, and scored five times.
Due to his transfer fee and likely accompanying salary, Boupendza will occupy a Senior Designated Player spot. Due to MLS roster mechanisms, FC Cincinnati will likely have to move Alvaro Barreal off of his U-22 designation as clubs with three senior DPs can have only one U-22 player (Marco Angulo). Fortunately Boupendza’s salary number will only account for roughly half a season’s budget charge for a DP (2023 max charge – $651,250).
Story was updated from the initial report on June 8, 2023.