Bastian Schweinsteiger set to join the Chicago Fire for $4.5 million

After a months-long effort to woo Bastian Schweinsteiger, the Chicago Fire have landed the Manchester United midfielder in the club’s most ambitious signing to date.

Schweinsteiger has signed a one-year Designated Player contract worth a guaranteed $4.5 million, the Chicago Tribune reported late Monday night. He is expected to join the Fire next week, pending paperwork and a physical.

“We’re adding someone who has won at every level, including the very highest levels, and has done so in a way that is consistent with our values,” Fire general manager Nelson Rodriguez told the Chicago Tribune. “We as a club will now be forced to hold ourselves to a higher standard, an accountability level. Previously, I think we could satisfy ourselves with what is known domestically. Now we need to rise to a standard that is set more internationally.”

Schweinsteiger joins a Fire team that has struggled badly for the last few years, including the last two at the bottom of the league. But the timing of the deal is something of a surprise. News of Schweinsteiger coming to Chicago started to pop up in November when Fire coach Veljko Paunovic was spotted by British outlets meeting with the German international in Manchester.

But since then, the Fire have strengthened their roster in the offseason, particularly in the midfield, including bringing in veteran midfielders Dax McCarty and Juninho, who both play in similar roles to Schweinsteiger. How Schweinsteiger will slot in with those players remains to be seen, but one thing he does have is star power. The German international is set to become one of the highest-paid players in MLS this year.

“Throughout my career, I’ve always sought opportunities where I hoped to make a positive impact and to help make something great,” Schweinsteiger said in a statement to the Chicago Tribune. “My move to Chicago Fire is no different. Through my conversations with Nelson and Pauno, I’m convinced by the club’s vision and philosophy and I want to help them with this project.”

Schweinsteiger has been on the outside looking in at Manchester United since manager Jose Mourinho took over last year. The 32-year-old midfielder has seen precious few minutes for Manchester, mainly being stuck with substitute appearances during the League Cup and FA Cup.

Before joining Manchester United in 2015, Schweinsteiger spent 13 seasons with Bayern Munich. He has 24 goals and 121 caps with the German national team, including as a starter when Germany won the World Cup in 2014.