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Sebastian Grazzini’s contract status creating some stir with Fire

CARSON CA - MAY 04:  Sebastian Grazzini #10 Chicago Fire controls ball during MLS match against Chivas USA The

CARSON, CA - MAY 04: Sebastian Grazzini #10 of the Chicago Fire controls the ball during the MLS match against Chivas USA at The Home Depot Center on May 4, 2012 in Carson, California. The Fire defeated Chivas USA 2-1. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Sebastian Grazzini

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Updated: July 18, 2012 6:40AM

Over the 15-day international break, the Fire’s coaching staff sent a clear message to players who are riding a three-game losing streak marked by lapses in concentration:

Stay focused throughout the game.

Considering all that is happening off the field, most notably the ongoing contract talks of attacking midfielder Sebastian Grazzini, that could prove difficult Sunday, when the Fire hosts the New York Red Bulls at Toyota Park

Though the Fire has a team option on the 31-year-old Argentinian, according to a team spokesman, talks are ongoing because he’s unhappy with the financial terms of the deal. According to the MLS Players Union’s list of 2012 salaries, Grazzini has a guaranteed compensation of $50,400. A decision must be made by the July 1 roster compliance date.

Signed last July, Grazzini has two goals and three assists in 12 appearances — all starts — this season. Despite a solid season to date, Grazzini said through an interpreter that it has been difficult to play under the uncertain circumstances.

‘‘If economically, financially, there’s a good contract, a good offer, I’m willing to stay,’’ Grazzini said. ‘‘But as everyone has seen, they’ve taken a little bit longer to decide.

“I don’t want to leave on a bad note on anything, especially because I have done well on the pitch. So I don’t understand what has taken so long.’’

The arrival Tuesday of Alex Monteiro De Lima, who joined the Fire on a free transfer from Swiss side FC Wohlen, has given the organization leverage in the Grazzini situation. The 23-year-old Brazilian can play either Grazzini’s position or left-outside midfielder, giving coach Frank Klopas flexibility if the Fire elects to part ways with Grazzini.

Alex, as he is known, will be available when the Fire travels to face Sporting Kansas City on June 29, two days after the summer transfer window opens.

While Grazzini’s status is the most uncertain, he isn’t the only Fire international with cause to question his immediate future with the organization. Once Alex is officially added to the roster June 27, he will occupy the team’s eighth and final international roster spot.

Earlier this week, Klopas was absent from training on a scouting trip to a location the team would not disclose, allowing for the possibility that the Fire could be looking to sign another international player. If the team retains Grazzini and signs another international player, it would have to part ways with one of its other international players.

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