Our First Designated Player!
St. Louis City SC have made their biggest personnel move to date by signing Brazilian João Klauss de Mello as their first Designated Player. Klauss is a 6'3" forward who has just turned 25 this week and comes to City from Bundesliga club Hoffenheim for a reported transfer fee of $3 million. (The "Designated Player" tag allows for the signing of players with higher salaries or transfer fees without counting against the salary cap.)
Klauss played his youth career in Brazil before being signed at the age of 19 by then-Hoffenheim scout and current sporting director for St. Louis City Lutz Pfannenstiel. Lutz described the signing, saying, "He has tremendous capacity to score and create chances for his teammates. Those attributes will surely help our team. His prime is ahead of him, and we are excited to help him maximize his potential."
Following his time with Hoffenheim's reserve team, Klauss has spent most of his time on loan to other European leagues. He was the top scorer in the Finnish Veikkausliiga in 2018 with HJK, followed by seasons with LASK in the Austrian Bundesliga and with Standard Liège and Sint-Truiden in the Belgian Pro League, also making ten appearances for Hoffenheim last season, including five in Europa League play.
Klauss is expected to join St. Louis City in July following the end of the European season, but he is not the only player arriving from the Bundesliga that month. City have also announced the signing of midfielder Tomáš Ostrák from FC Köln. Ostrák is only 22 and has numerous appearances for the Czech national team at the youth level. He is currently on loan to MFK Karvina in the Czech First League.
When combined with the signing of defender Selmir Pidro from Bosnia, the signings of Ostrák and Klauss look to give City a base of foreign talent in their mid-20s on which to begin building a squad a full year out from the team's first MLS game.
By Joe Chambers