Pappa signs Heerenveen pre-contract, will play out 2012 season with the Fire

Pappa signs Heerenveen pre-contract, will play out 2012 season with the Fire

MLS- Chicago Fire

Pappa signs Heerenveen pre-contract, will play out 2012 season with the Fire

Marco Pappa1 (ISIPhotos.com)

The long-standing question of whether Marco Pappa would be leaving the Chicago Fire and heading to Europe this season has finally been answered.

Yes, Pappa is heading to Europe, but no, he won't be leaving the Fire this season.

Chicago announced on Monday that Pappa had signed a pre-contract with Dutch Eredivisie side Heerenveen, but that Pappa would remain with the Fire for the rest of the 2012 season, which will run through the end of his current contract.

Pappa has enjoyed an outstanding season for the Fire, but persistent rumors about a possible departure have dogged him for the better part of the summer. Now it appears he will stay with the Fire as the team pushes towards the MLS playoffs.

It should be note that Pappa signing a pre-contract doesn't preclude Heerenveen from continuing to negotiate with MLS and the Fire over a potential transfer, but at this point it seems unlikely Heerenveen would pay what it would take to get Pappa out of his MLS contract four months early.

Unfamiliar with what a pre-contract is? A pre-contract is a deal a player can sign with a new team once he is into the final six months of a contract. The pre-contract arranges for the player's next club destination while he finishes out his current contract.

Pappa's pending move doesn't come as much of a surprise, least of all to the FIre, who already prepared for Pappa's likely departure by trading for Uruguayan midfielder Alvaro Fernandez.

Pappa isn't the first MLS product to join Heerenveen. The Dutch club also signed Michael Bradley as a teenager when he played for the New York/New Jersey MetroStars after the 2005 season, and also signed former Chicago Fire midfielder Will Johnson as a free agent. Johnson eventually returned to MLS, where he has become a standout with Real Salt Lake.

What do you think of this development? See Pappa shining in the Netherlands? Disappointed he's leavng MLS? See Alvaro Fernandez filling the void?

Share your thoughts below.

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