FC Cincinnati have acquired Gabon international forward Aaron Boupendza from Saudi Pro League side Al-Shabab FC, the club announced Tuesday. His deal runs through the 2025 MLS season, with options for 2026 and 2027.
The 26-year-old will join the Orange & Blue as a Designated Player alongside defensive midfielder Obinna Nwobodo and attacking midfielder Luciano Acosta. He’ll be eligible for selection when the MLS Secondary Transfer Window opens on July 5, potentially making their July 8 trip to Charlotte FC a debut date (7:30 pm ET | MLS Season Pass).
Boupendza could feature alongside striker Brandon Vazquez, helping fill the void created by Brenner’s upcoming move to Italian Serie A side Udinese.
“We’re delighted to have Aaron join FC Cincinnati,” Cincy general manager Chris Albright said in a release. “He’s a skillful and dynamic forward with a proven goal-scoring record and an ability to play multiple positions in the attack.
“He chose to come to Cincinnati in the prime of his career and his international and European experience will be extremely valuable to our group.
Beyond his talent, Aaron is also a player of strong personality and character who will fit in with the culture of our group. I’d like to welcome him to Cincinnati.”
Throughout his professional career, Boupendza has scored 63 goals in 138 club appearances. He memorably was the Turkish Süper Lig’s top goal-scorer in the 2020-21 campaign, netting 22 goals and one assist in 36 league games for Hatayspor.
At the international level, Boupendza has scored five goals in 24 caps for Gabon. He is international teammates with LAFC forward Dénis Bouanga.
FC Cincinnati are finalizing a deal to sign Gabon international forward Aaron Boupendza from Saudi Pro League side Al-Shabab FC, according to reports from Fabrizio Romano and The Athletic’s Tom Bogert.
Boupendza, 26, would reportedly be a Designated Player for the current Supporters’ Shield leaders and require a $7 million transfer fee, filling the spot vacated by Brenner’s upcoming move to Italian Serie A side Udinese.
Brenner, conversely, leaves for a club-record amount that’s reportedly $10 million, plus add-ons and a sell-on percentage.
Boupendza has 13 goals and three assists in 20 games across all competitions for Al-Shabab, moving there last year after impressing with Al-Arabi in the Qatari league.
Beforehand, he broke out at Turkey’s Hatayspor while tallying 22 goals and one assist across 36 games – beating former Orlando City SC striker Cyle Larin for the Süper Lig’s 2020-21 Golden Boot.
On the international circuit, Boupendza has four goals in 24 appearances with Gabon. He played a key role at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, often lining up alongside LAFC forward Dénis Bouanga.
Under their new regime, Boupendza would be Cincy’s second DP signing with experience in Turkey after they acquired defensive midfielder Obinna Nwobodo from Göztepe SK in April 2022. The club’s other DP is midfielder Luciano Acosta, who’s building off a 2022 MLS Best XI presented by Continental Tire nod.
The Orange & Blue could deploy Boupendza alongside striker Brandon Vazquez with Acosta playing underneath the. Vazquez has been linked to a European move in past windows, possibly giving Cincy’s front office two key players to replace after Brenner’s pre-arranged deal.
Heading into a Matchday 18 test at Vancouver Whitecaps FC (Saturday, 10:30 pm ET | MLS Season Pass), Cincy have a league-best 39 points from 16 matches (12W-1L-3D record)