After weeks of rumors and reports, FC Dallas finalized the signing of Croatian forward Petar Musa on February 1st, completing a club record transaction for the Burn. This week, let’s look at what this signing means for FCD going forward.
Let’s get this out of the way first, this is the biggest signing in the history of the club. Petar Musa isn’t the highest profile player to ever put on an FC Dallas or Dallas Burn jersey, that title will probably always belong to the legendary Hugo Sanchez who was a part of the Burn’s inaugural season, but Musa is an utterly massive signing. The reported fee of $9.7 million with add-ons of $3.3 million would place the transfer fee as the 3rd most expensive in MLS history, that is simply something that no one would have expected out of FC Dallas even just a few months ago.
With the signing of Lionel Messi, MLS has moved into yet another new era. Alongside the Apple TV deal, there are clear signs of a new level of spending power being introduced to the league and the league is attracting a caliber of player that hasn’t really been a part of the league to this point. Musa is a 25 year old with Croatian national team caps, Champions League experience with Benfica and a player who had interest from clubs in Europe’s top 5 leagues. FC Dallas being able to beat clubs like Lille, Bologna and Fulham to Musa’s signature is a massive statement for both Dallas and for the league as a whole.
Throughout the history of FC Dallas, concerns and complaints have come from fans about the level of ambition from the Hunts. It often felt like the owners were happy to invest money in the academy and youth side of things, places where they could see consistent returns on their investment, while allowing the first team to be run on the cheap as the league continued to raise in value year over year as TV contracts increased and more and more teams joined the league, paying higher and higher expansion fees.
But this move feels like a clear statement of intent. True, FC Dallas just paid around $8 million a couple years ago for Alan Velasco, but that felt like a different type of transaction. For one thing, it came off the back of a massive player sale with Dallas having sold Ricardo Pepi to FC Augsburg for $20 million, along with the prior sales of Bryan Reynolds and Tanner Tessmann to AS Roma and Venezia FC that helped pad out the money that Dallas had to thrown around on a player like Velasco. Velasco is also a young player with a clear potential to be sold for more money in the future, giving the club a chance to recoup their investment.
Musa, on the other hand, is not tied directly to any player sales. Dallas hasn’t sold a homegrown player for any kind of large sum since Pepi, with only Justin Che going for a small fee to Brondby in Denmark. When reports of Jesus Ferreira’s denied sale to Spartak Moscow arose, there were concerns around the fanbase that this would kill the Musa deal, with people understandably assuming that the club was waiting for the money for Ferreira to come in before making a big money move for Musa. But this was never the case, Musa was pursued before anything happened with Ferreira and the deal has happened without any kind of player sale in kind. This makes Musa’s signing a real statement and potentially a turning point in how FC Dallas spends money. For the first time, ownership has shown a willingness to invest directly in the first team without a promise of recouping that investment through a future sale or from a recent sale. The days of looking for a diamond in the rough on the cheap and filling the squad with those kinds of players seem like they might be over.
Of course, it is too early to say that definitively, Musa may end up being an outlier when we look back at things but, if nothing else, his signing is an incredibly encouraging sign to fans that this club is serious about competing in MLS in both the transfer market and on the field.
Speaking of on the field, it will be hard to say anything definitive until we can actually see Musa turn out for the team, but he certainly seems like a natural fit. Standing at 6’3″ and showcasing an ability to finish in various ways, he allows Jesus Ferreira to play in his best position as an off striker and provides a target forward profile for the team to play through. He seems like he’ll be able to fit in Nico Estevez’s traditional 4-3-3 or in the 5-2-2-1 look that has been used thus far in preseason. At age 25 with a four year DP contract, he looks like a player that the club can build around over the next half decade as they chase their first MLS Cup. Fans can hope to see more signings like him in years to come.
How are you feeling about FC Dallas’ signing of Petar Musa? Let me know in the comments below!
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