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LAFC plan for “big signing” to join Dénis Bouanga, Hugo Lloris | MLSSoccer.com

LAFC plan for “big signing” to join Dénis Bouanga, Hugo Lloris | MLSSoccer.com

Few teams across Major League Soccer have navigated a busier winter transfer window than LAFC.

But their biggest move for 2024? That could arrive this summer, according to co-president and general manager John Thorrington, especially as two Designated Player spots remain open.

“I go into every window thinking it’s going to be a little bit less chaotic than it is. If you were to ask me with a crystal ball now, barring sales, I actually feel really good about our group,” the Black & Gold’s chief architect said on Offside With Taylor Twellman. “And I would say, whether it’s now or in the summer, I think we’ll have a big signing, a significant signing – at least one more.

“The chaos will only ensue if there’s a player sale or something along those lines. But I think I probably said the exact same thing at the beginning of 2022 and in the summer we signed Giorgio [Chiellini], Dénis [Bouanga] and [Gareth] Bale. So I’ve learned to be nimble in thinking about these things.”

Thorrington didn’t mention specific targets, though the rumor mill has connected LAFC with Atlético Madrid and French national team forward Antoine Griezmann. Earlier this winter, Nottingham Forest and Belgian international striker Divock Origi was also linked with the club.

Vela’s future

In the meantime, another big question needs answering: Will Carlos Vela return or not? The 2019 Landon Donovan MLS MVP remains out of contract after six seasons of helping build LAFC from the ground up.

“We’re still in conversation with Carlos,” Thorrington said about the Mexican star and longtime captain. “I would love to be able to find a way to make it work for him to return to LAFC.

“Without negotiating in public, it’s just a function of what we can do and what makes sense for Carlos. And it’s by no means a lack of desire on our part. That’s for sure. I mean, Carlos is the face of our organization, has been the cornerstone of what we’ve built here. And we certainly are all well aware of that.”

Lloris & Martinez

In the meantime, LAFC have completed six signings. That group includes legendary French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, who was acquired from Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur and is reportedly on a team-friendly contract.

“I can’t speak highly enough of the impact he’s already had on our players,” Thorrington said of the 2018 World Cup winner. “Just watching this guy lead from his position, that’s a rare skill set.”

As experienced as Lloris is, David Martínez represents the other end of the spectrum. The 18-year-old Venezuelan international winger was acquired by LAFC before some of Europe’s biggest clubs could swoop in.

“In the case of David, we were able to do that with a player who admittedly, one of our scouts in that part of South America has been tracking this guy since he was 15 years old,” Thorrington said. “And this was not on his radar. But as soon as it was, we were ready to go.”

Bouanga stays

While LAFC have lost 17 players from last year’s squad, their outgoings list doesn’t include Bouanga. This winter, the 2023 Golden Boot presented by Audi winner was linked with a return to France after tying the MLS calendar-year record for goals (38) across all competitions.

“Dénis is a phenomenal player,” Thorrington said of the DP forward. “I think his individual abilities are unlike anything in this league. I think naturally that’s going to draw interest, which we don’t shy away from. We know that’s a part of it.

“I know Dénis loves it here. I know that. He’s very clear about that. So I think Dénis will continue to build on his legacy here at LAFC. As for how long that is, time will tell. But we certainly won’t be complaining if Dénis is banging in goals for many years here.”

Eyes on the prize

As the Black & Gold reload, Thorrington said their 2024 success is ultimately defined by trophies.

To that end, they came up just short in 2023 when losing the MLS Cup and Concacaf Champions Cup finals. But the prior season, boosted by a busy summer transfer window, LAFC completed an MLS Cup-Supporters’ Shield double.

“As much as we can, we plan very thoroughly for a window from now, two windows from now and so on,” Thorrington said. “But then as needs arise, hopefully we have the flexibility to add what we need to go for it because that’s what this club does.”

Thorrington added: “For us, the way we manage things is always to be as best we can, to be able to make moves as they’re needed. When you say, looking ahead, how busy is the summer going to be? A lot of that’s also going to be a function of how well we do the first half of the season.”

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