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CHESTER, Pa. -- The Union’s Freddy Adu saga is almost over.
In a detailed announcement on Wednesday, Union coach John Hackworth discussed a proposed trade that would send Adu to Brazilian club Bahia for 33-year-old veteran center midfielder José Kléberson. The deal is awaiting finalization.
“We do have a potential deal on the table for Freddy,” said Hackworth during his weekly press conference at PPL Park. “That deal is not done right now, there still are some hurdles that have to be stepped over for it to be done. We think it’s a good situation for both Freddy and the Union and could potentially bring us a high-profile player.”
Although Hackworth was tentative about the finality of the deal, he also believes the transaction is just a signature away.
“I want to be sensitive to the guys who are trying to finish this,” said Hackworth. “Freddy is scheduled to visit Brazil and that is one of the last contingencies of this, both the club and Freddy have to accept everything.
“There has been a lot of work put into this and we hope we can finish it off.”
The Union will not receive any salary cap relief in the swap.
“We will not get any salary cap space back,” said Hackworth. “It’s a complicated deal and ultimately, we’ll get Kléberson in here but will not get salary cap space.”
Former Manchester United player and World Cup winner with Brazil in 2002, Kléberson is coming off a situation similar to Adu, in which he was a high-priced and underperforming player for Bahia, which wanted him off the payroll. And like Adu, Kléberson was unable to solidify his position in the Bahia starting lineup.
“Kléberson was presented to us as a player before we had any discussions with Bahia about Freddy,” said Hackworth. “I remember sitting on my couch in 2002 and I was amazed by his performance in that World Cup. He was a revelation. The first time that name came across my email, I thought, ‘Wow, this is a great player.’ That’s how this started with Kléberson. Later on, with Freddy, it came together.
“It was in Kléberson that we had initial interest and then it came back around to an opportunity to make this work where we could send Freddy to Bahia.”
It’s unknown where Kléberson will fit in the Union’s roster with Keon Daniel currently playing starter at the center mid position and Roger Torres working as depth.
“I’ve always felt that one of our key goals was to bring in an established midfielder that would add to the players we have,” said Hackworth. “It didn’t happen this offseason. You always look for the opportunities but this move is not driven by how we feel about our current midfield. The fact is, I think we can get better and I think the players in our midfield can play better. When you have the opportunity to bring a player like Kléberson in, who meets the quality and experience factor, it makes it much more interesting for us.”
Hackworth also feels that Kléberson could be an improved addition to the team’s roster.
“His quality is still there,” said the coach. “He is an older player now and bringing him into our team would see our quality increase. We’d have to see how it fits and if he’s so good that we need to make adjustments, we’d make adjustments.”
For Adu, it’s yet another fresh start. Playing in just 35 games with the Union over two seasons, the disappointing designated attacking midfielder posted seven goals before being left off the 2013 roster by Hackworth. Signed by the Union in 2011, Adu, 23, is on his ninth club in as many years.
“In our mind, we knew the situation. This was the plan,” said Hackworth. “Going into the preseason, we knew that Freddy wasn’t going to be part of our team. It put a roster spot and salary cap restrictions on us but we knew we had to deal with it.
“From Europe to Asia to Australia, South America and Mexico, there is interest in Freddy Adu. He’s the type of player and has the name that attracts interest no matter what.”
Hackworth noted that the drawn out situation with Adu was a result of the player’s contract.
“Freddy had two years guaranteed on his contract and he was a DP player for us, meaning his salary was more than other players,” said Hackworth. “That makes this a complicated situation. For us, that meant we had to find a situation that could accommodate all of those things.”
It has been noted through various reports that Bahia’s interest in Adu could be powered by the club’s goal of internationalizing its brand. Bringing in an American player with a name like Adu will provide Bahia a marketing opportunity.
But first, all sides have to sign on the dotted line.
“We’re much more confident it’s going to happen but I don’t want to say anything to lead you to believe that it’s done,” Hackworth insisted. “There are still things we have to work out. I think Freddy and his representatives feel good about it, I think we feel good about it. There are some final parts of this to be worked out.
“We hope we’ll have a definitive answer in the next couple of days. Freddy is scheduled to make a trip to Brazil and once that happens, that could be the final step and hopefully that is days and not weeks.”