The Philadelphia Union has officially announced the signing of 25-year-old Hungarian midfielder Daniel Gazdag, who signed a 2-year deal with club options for a third and fourth year.
Daniel joins the Union from Hungarian side, Honvéd. He has spent his whole career at the Hungarian side, helping them win the Hungarian Championship in the 16/17 season and helping the club win the Hungarian Cup in 19/20.
Daniel first broke into the first team at Honvéd in the 14/15 season and cemented himself in the starting XI in the 16/17 season where he went on to start 31/32 of Honvéd’s league games as a central midfielder, racking up 7 assists.
Fast forward to the 20/21 season, in what is arguably Daniel’s best season on paper for Honvéd, he has started in 34/34 games in all competition while going on to score 18 goals and register 10 assists.
In the Union’s press release Ernst Tanner said of Daniel, “He is a versatile player who can play multiple positions in the midfield as well as at striker and has the ability to make an immediate impact. His aggressive style of play has made him a top finisher in the Hungarian league and a good fit for our system.”
Jim Curtin also echoed that statement by saying, “His ability speaks for itself. He kind of fits our locker room in that he did everything his team needed. If his team needed goals, he played as a second striker (getting) them goals. He can play as a ten, as an eight; he’s very versatile and gives us a great player in our midfield. His skill set very much fits the Philadelphia Union (and) he’ll be an instant boost to our team.”
That’s high praise from the club sporting director and head coach for a player that Philadelphia Union fans can’t wait to see take the field.
How long will Union fans have to wait to see Daniel Gazdag play?
Daniel has been capped 6 times by the Hungary National team, scoring once, and he’ll undoubtedly be heading to the Euros this Summer representing his National team. Unfortunately for Hungary and Daniel, but maybe fortunate for Union fans, Hungary has been drawn into the “Group of Death” alongside European juggernauts, France, Germany, and Portugal.
Hungary’s first match of the tournament is June 15th against Portugal, with their last game in the group stages coming June 23rd against Germany.
Many fans were speculating that Daniel won’t be with the Union until after the Euros. Still, Jim Curtin was quick to dismiss that, saying, “Our goal now is to get him in as quickly as possible to squeeze in, hopefully, play against DC (May 23rd), maybe even Red Bull (May 15th), possibly Portland (May 30th).
What does this mean for Anthony Fontana?
A little over two months ago, Jim Curtin told reporters that he would give “the keys” to Fontana in the number 10 role. Fast forward to today, and Fontana has started twice as the number ten and three times as a second striker due to injuries to Sergio Santos and Cory Burke at the time. Most fans thought this would finally be the year that we see Anthony Fontana start week in, week out, now with Brenden Aaronson gone and this team looking like they had no number ten other than him. When Fontana has filled in at striker, Jamiro Monteiro has looked excellent at the 10, while Leon Flach has looked excellent as the 8, leaving no room for Fontana again in the starting XI. We saw just this past weekend against the Chicago Fire that Jim went with Leon Flach at the 6, as El Brujo severed game one of his three-game suspension. Meaning Jamiro was back in the 10, and Jack McGlynn was given his starting debut at the 8.
Now with the arrival of another number 10, where exactly does that leave Anthony Fontana?
Jim Curtin stated that the Union could use different formations due to the versatility of the midfielders, saying, “You can play with two tens, it’s not out of the question where Jamiro and Gazdag as the two tens. You can play with two guys that are more like sixes and sit a little bit different. It can look more like a box than a diamond”.
Yes, the addition of Gazdag looks like it takes Fontana entirely out of the XI. Still, I think one thing fans are missing is that from June 20th (Atlanta away) up until September 16th (second leg against Club America), the Union play 14 games in 89 days. They play multiple games a week; people will need to be rotated and rested. The more depth, the better it will be for this team in the long run.
So there you have it, Union fans, the Union have their new 10 that they reportedly paid a transfer fee of $1.8M according to Hungarian outlet Nemzeti Sport.
The Philadelphia Union’s 2021 MLS season has officially kicked off as they go into Columbus Sunday evening and pick up a 0-0 result, their first points in Columbus since September 29, 2018, in which that game also ended 0-0.