By IVES GALARCEP
The Philadelphia Union are on the verge of unloading out-of-favor midfielder Freddy Adu to Brazilian side Bahia, and reports out of Brazil have Kleberson heading the other way in a swap deal.
The World Cup-winning midfielder will join the Union as soon as Adu and Bahia reach an agreement on a transfer. Sources tell SBI that Adu is set to travel to Brazil on Tuesday, where he will complete the signing that will put an end to his time with the Union after less than two years with the club.
A standout on the 2002 Brazilian World Cup team, Kleberson parlayed that into a move to Manchester United, where he spent two largely disappointing seasons. After a stint with Besiktas, Kleberson enjoyed a five-year run with Brazilian side Flamengo before joining Bahia in 2012.
Sources have confirmed to SBI that Kleberson is the player who would be heading to the Union once Adu’s transfer to Bahia is completed.
According to reports in Brazil, Bahia’s situation with Kleberson is similar to Adu’s situation with the Union. Both are highly-paid midfielders who their current teams want to unload, and by swapping each other’s unwanted player, it will mean clearing their books of high salaries that much sooner.
If the deal happens, it would be the latest positive step for a young Union side currently riding an impressive and somewhat surprising two-match winning streak. The arrival of Kleberson would create more competition for central midfield playing time, and would also likely mean Amobi Okugo will be staying at centerback for the rest of the season.
The move could also be a major positive for Adu, who needs a change of scenery after falling out with the Union, and who could be a perfect fit for the more technical style of play in the Brazilian League, a league growing stronger amid the flourishing Brazilian economy.
The 23-year-old Adu has struggled to find a stable club situation throughout his career. He has enjoyed glimpses of success at a variety of clubs, from Benfica to Monaco and Greek side Aris FC, but only his stint with Turkish second division side Rizespor in 2011 could be considered a strong full season.
Adu parlayed that run with Rizespor into a return to the U.S. Men’s National Team fold, where he enjoyed an impressive stretch in the semifinal and final of the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup, a stretch that led directly to his big-money transfer to the Union.
Adu will be hoping he can repeat that sort of career revival at Bahia, and with the quality of play in Brazil, a successful stint with Bahia could help rekindle interest in Adu from U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who has not called in Adu since his very first national team camp as U.S. coach, in August of 2011.
Adu will travel to Brazil on Tuesday, and is expected to sign his contract on Wednesday if all details can be finalized on the move. Philadelphia Union head coach John Hackworth refused to address the Adu situation after Saturday’s 1-0 win vs. New England, saying only that he would address the situation during the week, most likely on Wednesday after the move is projected to be completed.