Sporting Kansas City has acquired 25-year-old winger Gerso Fernandes in a transfer from Portuguese club C.F. Os Belenenses, the club announced Wednesday. Fernandes has signed as a Designated Player through 2019 with an option for 2020. He will occupy an international spot on Sporting Kansas City’s roster pending receipt of his International Transfer Certificate and P1 visa.
A native of Guinea-Bissau in West Africa, Fernandes has played more than 150 matches during a six-year professional career in Portugal. He has spent each of the last five seasons in the Portuguese first division, including the 2016-17 Primeira Liga campaign with Belenenses.
“Gerso is a player who has been on our radar over the past few years,” Sporting KC Manager Peter Vermes said. “Once he became available during this window, acquiring him became a priority for us. He is a dynamic winger that can play on either side of the field and the fact that he played a similar formation to ours in Portugal will only help his transition into our team.”
Fernandes, a left-footed winger, has started nine of 14 Primeira Liga appearances for Belenenses since August, recording four assists as well as the game-winning goal against Maritimo on Dec. 10. He also contributed one assist in three domestic cup matches, featuring in the 2016-17 Taça de Portugal and the 2016-17 Taça da Liga.
Prior to joining Belenenses this summer, Fernandes appeared more than 100 times for Estoril between 2011-2016. He helped clinch promotion to the Primera Liga in his first year with the club, playing 21 matches en route to the 2011-12 Segunda Liga title. He facilitated Estoril’s transition to the top flight over the next two seasons, recording four assists in 43 Primera Liga appearances and playing six games in the 2013-14 UEFA Europa League group stage.
Fernandes went on loan to Moreirense for the 2014-15 campaign, netting a career-high six goals in all competitions while leading the newly promoted club to an 11th place finish in the 18-team Primeira Liga. He returned to Estoril the following year, notching two goals and four assists while starting 30 league matches during the 2015-16 season.
Born in Bissau, Guinea-Bissau, Fernandes moved to Portugal at age 11 to begin his youth career with C.F. União de Coimbra in 2002. He continued his development at Académica de Coimbra from 2009-2010 before going on loan to G.D. Tourizense, where he scored three goals across 25 games in his first professional season.
For a full list of Sporting Kansas City’s offseason roster moves, visit SportingKC.com/tracker.
Gerso Fernandes (JER-soh)
Weight: 140 lbs.
Hometown: Bissau, Guinea-Bissau
Birthplace: Bissau, Guinea-Bissau
Previous club: C.F. Os Belenenses (Portugal)