Terms of the transfer were not fully disclosed by NYCFC, though the team did announce that Fernández joins as a U22 initiative signing.
Vélez, however, detailed the terms of the agreement in their official press announcement: The club will get a guaranteed $5 million plus $1.5 million in performance bonuses, plus a 15% sell-on fee.
NYCFC opened a U22 initiative slot by selling Gabriel Pereira to Al-Rayyan, and it’s hard not to view Fernández as a direct replacement for Pereira.
Fernández is a left-footer who has mostly operated on the right wing in his time with Vélez, notching three goals and two assists across his 45 appearances in Argentina’s Primera División. Those appearances came in his first two seasons as a professional, which Fernández played at the tender ages of 18 and 19.
When NYCFC signed left-footed right winger Pereira from Corinthians in the Brasileiro Série A, Gabi had just made 31 appearances and had scored two goals and added two assists over his first two professional seasons, which he too played as an 18- and 19-year-old. There’s no guarantee that Fernández’s MLS experience will mirror Pereira’s, but the similarities are there.
Reports first linking Fernández with this move to NYCFC popped up last week, with the aforementioned César Luis Merlo reporting that NYCFC was in “advanced talks” with Vélez. Word later came down that Fernández had traveled to England to complete his medical to clear the way for officially joining NYCFC, with the player pictured on Instagram on a plane presumably en route to conduct that pre-contract medical exam.
Fernández joins striker Mounsef Bakrar as a second new summer addition to the long-struggling NYCFC attack. Bakrar’s first start for the club coincided with a five-goal Leagues Cup demolition of Toronto FC, and NYCFC will be hoping history repeats itself whenever Fernández earns his first start.
When will we see Fernández don the Interboro (or, shudder, Volt) Kit for the first time? Visa issues have initially delayed both Bakrar and center back Birk Risa from suiting up for NYCFC, and there will likely be a wait of some kind involved before Fernández joins his teammates in either Leagues Cup or MLS action.
Interestingly, Fernández becomes the latest player to go from Vélez to MLS. The Argentine club has become a serious exporter of talent to MLS, with five recent Vélez products now plying their trades in the American league: Fernández and Braian Cufré for NYCFC; Thiago Almada for Atlanta United; Álvaro Barreal for FC Cincinnati; and Gastón Giménez for Chicago Fire.
Will this be the final move NYCFC sporting director David Lee makes during the MLS Secondary Transfer Window? Lee has added Bakrar, Risa, midfielder Andrés Perea, and now Fernández—with Maxi Moralez also potentially set to re-arrive.
The window closes on Wednesday, August 2, so time is tight if there is to be any further reinforcement to Nick Cushing’s squad as it hopes to climb up from 13th place in the Eastern Conference when MLS play resumes in mid-August.