Red Bulls sign Juninho Pernambucano


The New York Red Bulls took the next step in their roster transformation on Monday with the announcement of the signing of Brazilian midfielder Juninho Pernambucano.

The former Lyon star turns 38 before the start of the 2013 season, but the Red Bulls will be hoping he can provide the creative midfield skill the team has been lacking in the middle of the field since the days of Amado Guevara and Youri Djorkaeff.

“Juninho is a world class player who our Global Sporting Director, Gerard Houllier, and I have known and admired for many years,” said Red Bulls Sporting Director Andy Roxburgh. “Aside from being a top dead ball specialist and a tremendous talent, Juninho is a fantastic professional both on and off the field. He is in great physical shape and we think he can make a positive impact for us in 2013.”

Juninho’s age raises question marks about what sort of impact he can have, but he is coming off a strong season with Brazilian side Vasco de Gama, where he generated seven goals and eight assists.

A free-kick specialist considered one of the best in soccer history at scoring on set pieces, Juninho is likely to step into the heart of the Red Bulls midfield where he could partner with the likes of Tim Cahill and Dax McCarty.

Juninho’s arrival could also help the Red Bulls become an even more attractive destination for Brazilian star Kaka, who is close friends with Juninho. The Red Bulls also have Kaka’s brother, Digao, on the team roster for 2013.

What do you think of the signing? See him making an impact? Think he could help lure Kaka to the Red Bulls?

Share your thoughts below.

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93 Responses to Red Bulls sign Juninho Pernambucano

  1. Camjam says:

    DP Contract? I guess I wouldn’t be angry if it were…… But still on the low end. I just hate the reaction that would follow MLS throwing millions at a 38 year old. Even one who looks like he can still play.

    • Camjam says:

      Whoops. 37 I guess.

    • Charles says:

      Quit worry about what others think….most of them are morons.

      • Camjam says:

        Good point. And it’s a non DP contract. Honestly, pretty good signing. HE may be up there, but the guy still bosses every league he plays in. And the Brazilian league is a good league for sure.

        • Georkt says:

          What’s wrong with this picture? Red Bull are starting to make sense. We’ve just picked up quality players from within MLS and signed arguably the best dead ball taker in futbol, and he’s Brazilian…………see Ironbound.

          My brain hurts.

          • Mase NJRB says:

            Agree with the Ironbound part but i was wondering how much of an impact it would make on attendance. How is this guy looked upon by Brazilians? Will he really drive them out to watch a couple of games?

          • Lucas says:

            how about Kenny Cooper back to FCD for Brek Shea???

        • Josh D says:

          He’s a perfect pick up if he’s not on DP dollars! And he doesn’t come with the nagging injuries most his age have as baggage. He’s more a Valderrama – he won’t move around, but once he has the ball, watch out! Quite like Beckham last year.

          Not a NY fan, but I have to admit this is a good purchase. With him and Kaka’s brother in the cards, is the next announcement Kaka himself?

        • dan says:

          at a non-dp contract this is a steal

    • St. Addi says:

      The distance of some of his free kicks is insane. The master of the knuckle ball. Check it out
      link to

  2. nato says:

    who is Juninho?

  3. THomas says:

    Who? Unless he is literally brought in to bring you Kaka…why?

    • slowleftarm says:

      Really? Guess you’re pretty new to the sport if you don’t know who this guy is.

      • THomas says:

        Since 2006, which is when he was last relevant it sounds like. But I assumed he was going to be a DP spot, if not then adding older veterans for little salary cap space isn’t a bad thing.

    • David JS says:

      David Beckham just showed that a 37 year old can be one of the 10 most influential players in MLS, and Juninho is on that level for sure. At least, he was at one time and, from the sound of it, has aged pretty gracefully for a footballer. If he’s healthy, he is a really damn good signing. Kudos NYRB, not a fan at all but I’m excited to see what Juninho can do in MLS, even at this twilight stage in his career.

    • Bobb says:

      You’re just embarrassing yourself by admitting that you don’t know who Juninho is. Go read his Wikipedia page, then go watch a freaking Youtube clip of his free kicks, then come back here and ask “why?”….

      • THomas says:

        I don’t consider asking other soccer fans a question about a team and player I’m not familiar with embarassing. Thanks for the insight.

  4. slowleftarm says:

    Pretty happy with RBNY’s offseason so far. And with Rafa gone, still a DP spot to be filled at some point. Wouldn’t mind if that DP was a central defender.

    • MetrofanNo1 says:

      True, defense wins championships. Hey while we are out to get some vets a good defender would be Yepes. Olave and Yepes in defense would be great!

  5. beto says:

    haha, in order to sign Kaka you must also sign his old as dirt uncle Juninho and little brother. Good luck NY!

    • T-lover says:

      You do know this guy scoreD 14 goals last year, in a much better league then MLS right. I heard all this fun making when J.Kidd was signed by the Knicks. Now the Knicks have the second best record in the NBA.

    • CÉU says:

      Man you guys have never had a player with the class of Juninho Pernambucano in MLS.

  6. Roy says:

    He is not better at freekicks than Roy Miller

  7. Ryan says:

    Nobody seems to be mentioning the impact on attendance this will have. For anyone who was at the opening of Red Bull Arena against Brazilian side Santos you will remember a packed house. Juninho will bring in some local fans from Iron Bound and if Kaka is signed? Oh boy, get ready to samba on the way to RBA!!!

    • Georkt says:

      Well I see somebody is paying attention to this fact. Well done sir.

    • David JS says:

      I’m not a Red Bulls fan by any stretch, but it is nice to see that they appear to have their collective head screwed on straight for once. MLS will always be stronger when the Galaxy and the Red Bulls are thriving. I mean no disrepect to the other teams or to the league, it’s just the way it is in American sports; the NBA is best with good Knicks-Lakers-Celtics teams, MLB: Yankees-Dodgers-Red Sox, NFL: Packers-Cowboys-Steelers, etc.

    • Helium-3 says:

      I remember that game and how Santos was soundly beaten 3-1. Neymar played too and Santos were quite shocked with their inability to deal with the physical aspect of the match.

      If those young Santos players were unable to cope with the MLS’ physicality, how is Juninho at 38?

    • Mase NJRB says:

      If Kaka is signed it would be hard to find a ticket. Im from the area, might as well find a Portuguese and Spaniard to go along!!

    • cremmo says:

      Brazil has drawn pretty well at the Meadowlands, which is way bigger than RBA.

  8. Scott A says:

    Roxburgh is keeping close tabs on the goalkeeping skills of Kaka’s chauffeur. I kid; I actually like the signing. The Brazilian league is no joke to thrive in.

  9. JoeW says:

    I don’t doubt that he’s still capable of some good soccer. But there are a couple of issues:
    –MLS is a difficult league to transition to. Tremendous travel (there are only about 2, maybe 3 teams that NYRB plays that don’t involve plane trips). Very physical. Lots of running, Not every player who’s good can excel here. I’ve always been an admirer of Juniniho and his game. But I’m not sure he’s a good fit for MLS.
    –For his game, you need to build the team around him. You probably need to play a 5 man midfield (I like McCarty but he’s not a true D-mid, he’s at this best when he’s in a holding mid role with someone who is entirely defensive next to or behind him). And I’m not sure how well Henry works with Juninho…both very creative and skilled players but unless Henry plays purely as a withdrawn forward rather than dropping back into midfield, I think it’s not a good fit. If you surround Juninho with the kind of guys who will make runs off the ball, or will carry water for him, or cover the ground he won’t be able to cover, than he can be very effective. To a certain extent, it’s like having Carlos Valderamma as your A-mid: it works with the right support and right scheme and right players.
    –He’s 37. And to build your team around a 37 y.o. is quite a gamble. I guess you can use Henry in his role for those matches where Juininho needs to come out or isn’t ready to play or his legs need a break (you know, the 3 games in 7 days each of which involves a plane trip).


  10. brad says:

    which one in the picture is Juninho?

  11. LarryM says:

    Probably too old to be effective more than occasionally. Another poor metrobull signing? My guess is yes.

  12. ELAC says:

    No offense, but he looks old. Good luck to NYRB. Juninho was a badass at Lyon back in the day.

  13. gigi says:

    Giggs is 39 and can still kick butt in the premier league. Very few players can make it through that age and still play but I think Juninho still got it. IF another attacking midfielder is signed as a DP, Kaka or whoever, I think Red bulls need make a trade for a speedy left or right forward and deploy a 4-3-3. SO much talent, but maybe a little too slow. PS. I love how Red Bulls are trying to bring in guys who are not just good players, but who are good locker room guys. Good signings, but more work is needed.

  14. Gnarls says:

    I’ll take the younger Juninho, thanks.

  15. TomG says:

    Is this a joke, that multiple people are professing ignorance of who Juninho is?

  16. ec says:

    Wow, surprised how many people don’t know who he is. I loved those Champions League teams that always seemed to lose in the QF’s, felt terrible for them. Lyon had so much talent, but it seemed every summer Real Madrid, Chelsea, or someone else was poaching their best players. What could have been.

    But Juninho was the heart of that great run, I think they won 7 straight French titles after he got there, after having not one a title for over 50 years. Still, count me skeptical that he has anything left in the tank…

    • al17 says:

      Actually I’d say the heart of those Lyon sides was Sonniy Anderson but Juninho would be the other part of that heart.

  17. Paddy Megroyn says:

    Good to see Ryan from The Office has landed on his feet with another gig.

  18. Todd says:

    Not a Red Bulls fan, but IMHO, this is a quality signing. Juniho still has it, and Red Bulls should be happy to have a player of this caliber at a non-DP salary.

  19. Joe+G says:

    Brazilians have last names? Go figure…

    • Scott A says:

      Unfortunately, a lot of American soccer fans don’t know that leagues exist outside of the British Isles, so we really do need it lest people think there’s only the one Juninho in Carson.

      • Joe+G says:

        To be honest, it’s hard to keep track of all the top players in the world. I’ve never heard of the guy, though I might have seen him with the NT in the past.

        I was wondering when they would run of of one name monikers for the men & the women :)

        • Scott A says:

          No problem, it wasn’t directed at you or anything :) I wonder the same thing about hurricanes.

        • Philbin says:

          Haha, Pernambucano is not actually his last name… Pernambuco is the state in Brazil where he is from. It’s the equivalent of, say, “Landon Californian”

          Also, if anyone still doesn’t know who he is, he was a starter for Brazil in WC 2006 alongside Kaka and Ronaldinho.

    • Gnarls says:

      That’s actually not his last name. That’s the Brazilian state from which he originates. It’s a nickname, like calling a Texan “Tex.”

  20. Luis C says:

    Where is the Coach?

  21. al17 says:

    WOW!!! RedBulls instantly move to Favorites to win next year’s MLS Cup in my book.
    You replaced a poor excuse for a player in Marquez with one hell of a player and a player who’s always been CLASS. Merry Christmas New York. You got this one right.

  22. Adam M. says:

    This is a tremendous addition that goes a long way to solving Red Bulls main problem on offense. Henry will never want for service and no one will question who should be taking the free kicks. If you have watched Vasco this year, you know age isn’t a real issue. Outstanding pickup. Instantly one of the best players in MLS.

  23. BFT says:

    This guy has consistently thumped in some of the most outrageous free kicks, should be fun to watch. He was great on those strong Lyon teams from a few years back that just couldn’t quite beat the best in the CL. As long as he doesn’t help Red Bull win anything, I’ll enjoy watching him.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      Oh, and Djorkaeff hit some zingers in his NY day too. But he was good for one solid year. Lucky for Juninho this is not turf anymore, but at 38 this is a dice roll from year 1 onward. I don’t see how this helps long term.

  24. Dave says:

    Perhaps Houllier wanted Juninho because he needs help standing up. Come on, look that pic.

  25. L says:

    They will need the appropriate coach to win anything next season.

  26. YO says:

    This is crazy! That’s all I can manage to come up with.

  27. TomG says:

    One thing about Juninho, the guy is a flat out winner. Everywhere he goes, silverware follows.

  28. Matt C in Tampa says:

    With the way RedBull signs the elderly, i think it’s fair to ask: Is Juninho the guy on the right or the left?

  29. Mike R says:

    I heard the NJ Red Metros are going to sign Either Zico or Robero Baggio too

  30. The Imperative Voice says:

    Maybe Gary McAllister has secured a specific Old Man Soccer certification from the Scottish FA preparing him to coach this bunch.

  31. caramelcheese says:

    Two steps forward and one step back.

  32. Primoone says:

    As great as those connections are…Kaka will not be playing in MLS prior to 2014 world cup. Lets keep it 1-Hunnitt The guy still has national team ambitions and he is not going to fulfil them playing in MLS.

  33. Primoone says:

    Big Juninho fan dating back to VDG days.

  34. JP says:

    Deal is finally done. I mentioned it here a couple of weeks ago when he visited RBNY and liked what he saw. The relationship with Gerard Houllier dates back to his time with Lyon.

    Don’t be fooled by Juninho’s age. He is in great shape, runs like a kid and dictates the tempo from the middle of the field, scoring an eventual goal. Free kicks and set plays will carry an extra danger fator for opponents.

    He’s idolized by Vasco da Gama fans and probably expects to spend a couple of years on MLS then head back to Rio and finish his career and take an administrative role in that club.

  35. Sabella says:

    Even if he kills it in his first season, realistically, this is a short term strategy. I was hoping for a long term solution in the attacking midfield

    • omarvelous says:

      hmm I would have loved a long term solution too but a true A-mid solution for Red Bulls (or most teams for that matter) would be young, creative and cheap. A-mids aren’t easy to find though. Teams that have them don’t give them up either. Juninho is creative and cheap for now but not young. He’s not super fast but he still has the energy to run and being a fast physical player was never his style anyway but he still thrived. If he stays and teaches a a lesson or two to some of our young midfielders I think for that alone he should earn his salary. His production on the field I think will be good and his off field presence with younger teammates will be invaluable. So all in all count me as not disappointed.

  36. Steve says:

    Any way u look at this he will be better than rafa and any edge on set pieces is a boosts

  37. omarvelous says:

    He definitely going to need some more help in midfield than NYRB have at the moment, IMO. He’s pure class and honestly he reminds me of Riquelme with his style of play. He’s deceptively laid back. He has amazing vision and plays with his vision more than his speed and physicality. But he’s going to need a reliable midfield partner to play with and feed him the ball and to be his midfield outlet to get rid of the ball. With Dax seemingly locked into his sweeper role as a deep D-mid (which I love him in) that leaves NY with two spots open along Juninho. Fielding Lindpere along Juninho is not something I’d want to see. Lindpere takes players on but he isn’t what he used to be. Sam is quick and if his injuries are better next season I think he’ll be manning the right side of the field again along with Cahill for our midfield. I feel like NYRB may be playing a more right side heavy game next year as none of these players to my knowledge have played midfield on the left side

    • Lucas says:

      This move pushes Cahill to a more natural role up top. Henry/Cahill will be a deadly duo. Espindola is the perfect energy guy off the bench.

      Now, NY needs more speed in the midfield. Sam looked good, but I don’t think he can be counted on to be a starter. Lindpere is not the impact player he was before last season.

      NY should go after a disgruntled Brek Shea. Cooper would be a nice partner for Blas Perez back in his old stomping grounds. Fabian Castillo would be better on the wing for FCD.

  38. Tag says:

    Wow. New strategy for MLS. Washed up Latinos in addition to washed up euros

  39. Older & Wiser says:

    You heard it here first — he will come to be known as “the Brazilian Beckham”

  40. asda says:

    Im suprised how undervalued this guy is?
    he is THE best dead ball taker in the last 20years fifa ever seen, fyi, not DBeck aka Spiceboy.
    but the problem w him playing w MLS, MLS players (farm system: NCAA) who run their hearts out for the ball like schoolboys w/o using their head, wont utilize his skill.
    Even if Messi plays MLS, hes not gonna be as good of a player as he would w Barcelona.
    cos it’s a team game, not tennis.