For whatever reason, Philadelphia has not become a sought-after destination for soccer players in Europe looking to come over to MLS. That could all change shortly if free agent Swiss midfielder Tranquillo Barnetta (great name!) signs with the Union.
Such a scenario seems likely since he was seen practicing with the team at their home field (PPL Park) last Friday. Making it even more intriguing is the fact that he’s only 30-years-old and he’s played in Germany’s well-respected Bundesliga for the past 10 seasons.
A veteran of the last three World Cups with Switzerland, he is also being courted by Real Betis (Spain) and Leicester City (England) after he spent the last four years with Schalke-Jermaine Jones’ former club.
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“He’s making a big decision right now,” said Union head coach Jim Curtin. “You can see his quality in training. He’s a guy that we’re very interested in, very high on and we hope to wear this badge (jersey).”
Between his first team-Switzerland’s St. Gallen-and four German sides, Barnetta has put up 45 goals in 355 games. He has scored 10 goals in 75 appearances for Switzerland.
Curtin can see the bigger picture that Barnetta would not only improve his team on the field but he would show that Los Angeles and New York first and foremost do not always end up with the top international signings.
“The appeal of America is a real one,” noted Curtin. “The appeal of our league has become a real one. Many big players are coming here. It’s an exciting time for the league because it’s growing quick.”