American Exports: Kljestan, Anderlecht nearing new deal
AMSTERDAM – Fresh off celebrating the first league championship of his professional career, Anderlecht midfielder Sacha Kljestan is in talks with the Belgian club over a four-year contract extension.
The 26-year-old's current deal runs until the summer of 2014, but the Mauves are hoping to keep the transfer wolves at bay with an improved pact.
"We started talking about it a few weeks ago," Kljestan told MLSsoccer.com by phone from Brussels. "I think we're close to putting it together. It'll probably happen in the next few weeks.
"I'm flattered because I've only been here two years. The fact that they want to keep me here for four more and lock me up, coming all the way from the president and vice president and general manager, makes me proud."
The prospect of a new deal is just one of the many positives in Kljestan's world these days, with last Sunday's Jupiler League clincher still fresh in his memory.
The former Chivas USA man came off in the 74th minute in a tactical substitution with Anderlecht trailing derby rivals Club Brugge by a goal. He remained in the dugout to witness Guillaume Gillet's last-gasp equalizer that earned Anderlecht the needed point.
"I was just pushing the team on from the sidelines," recalled Kljestan. "Once the ball was put down [on the penalty spot], my heart was beating out of my chest.
"As soon as the ball went in and the referee blew the whistle to end the game, I had tears coming down my face. It's my first title, I was so excited and proud. It was a crazy feeling."
Kljestan appears in all of the Anderlecht celebration photos draped in an American flag. The Southern California native says he had it stowed along just for the occasion.
"My fiancée was able to come on the field, and she brought it down to me," he said. "I was stoked to be able to parade around with that on my shoulders for a couple of hours."
Not quite done for the season, Kljestan and Anderlecht will play their next-to-last match at Kortrijk on Wednesday.