It finally happened. Nashville SC have signed a high-value striker. Venezuelan international Jhonder Cádiz has joined the Boys In Gold on loan from Portuguese powerhouse Benfica as a Designated Player. Cádiz’s loan runs through June 30, 2021, with a purchase option that Nashville can trigger at any point during the loan period.
“I’m very excited to join Nashville SC and to be a part of this inaugural year for the club,” said Cádiz in the club’s press release. “I’m incredibly motivated to showcase my game in Nashville and Major League Soccer and to help the club reach every goal in 2020 and beyond.”
“Jhonder has been an outstanding striker at the highest of levels in both European and South American competitions, and we think his game is tailor-made for Major League Soccer,” said Nashville SC General Manager Mike Jacobs. “The combination of his athleticism and clinical ability around the box made him heavily sought after. We feel fortunate to be able to add him to our club.”
Cádiz will travel to Nashville and be available for selection pending receipt of his International Transfer Certificate, P-1 Visa, and completion of any mandatory quarantine period under local government and Major League Soccer health and safety protocol.
After making his professional debut at age 16, Cádiz spent five years in Portugal, eventually ending up at Benfica. He was loaned to Dijon in the French Ligue 1, where he scored twice in 15 appearances last season.
Throughout his career, he’s scored 28 goals and assisted 15 in 138 matches, averaging 0.48 goals+assists per 96 minutes played. While that’s not an elite output in Europe, it’s not dissimilar to the new mold of DP strikers we’re seeing in MLS.
Cádiz fits the profile of strikers Nashville SC has been looking at since before their MLS debut. They’ve wanted a young, high-upside player with experience at the top levels, who has the ability to score in a number of ways. Cádiz is all of those.
At 6’3″, he’s a physical presence up front. He’s able to play as a target forward, but he’s not just a target forward. He moves really well, able to stretch the defense with his pace, and with a really clean touch and good ball control.
Ironically, Cádiz doesn’t seem like a pure finisher. He gets into dangerous positions and has deceptive speed, but his finishing can be inconsistent. While he has a strong shot, he’s not a striker who will pull the trigger at any sight of goal, but rather one who looks to combine in possession. That bodes well for a team that has Hany Mukhtar and Randall Leal at the core of their attack, and Cádiz should be able to link up well with those two, allowing them to get on the ball higher up the field.
Here’s the thing: Nashville don’t need a 20 goal scorer. They’d take one, sure, and Cádiz could prove to be more lethal in MLS than he’s been elsewhere. What Nashville needs is a no. 9 who can click with the rest of the attack, get the frontline in better positions, and be the one to score in big moments when a single goal means the difference between a win and a draw.
The loan move gives Nashville a test drive period before they’re forced to make a final decision, and they’ll be hoping that with consistent minutes at the MLS level, Cádiz will prove to be an effective option up front. He’s not a guarantee by any means, but looks like an upgrade off the bat, and at 25 years old, he still has a couple years of development ahead of him before he hits his peak.
With an option to purchase, I expect Nashville will pull the trigger on a permanent move if Cádiz lives up to their expectations. They have plenty of time to see how he adjusts, so they have the ability to ease him into action slowly. With Ligue 1 cancelling their season outright when Covid struck, Cádiz’s last competitive action came on March 7. Factor in travel, the mandatory quarantine period (around 10 days), and adjusting to a new squad, he’ll take a couple weeks to get his feet under him.
Transaction: Nashville SC acquires Jhonder Cádiz on loan from Benfica as club’s Designated Player through June 30, 2021
Full name: Jhonder Leonel Cádiz Fernández
Birthdate: Jul 29, 1995
Hometown: Caracas, Venezuela
Last club: S.L. Benfica
How Acquired: Nashville SC acquires Jhonder Cádiz on loan from S.L. Benfica as club’s Designated Player through June 30, 2021