CHESTER, Pa. – It doesn’t matter that he once starred for Brazil in the World Cup or that he suited up for Manchester United.
“We want to make sure we give him a little time to get integrated,” Union head coach John Hackworth said during his weekly press conference Wednesday. “I keep talking about guys having to come in and earn it. So the last thing I want to do is take a guy off a plane and try to insert him to a team that is, at the moment, a solid group of guys, understands the work ethic [and is] trying to train and play the right way – before we even have a chance to put him in a training session.”
Kléberson was officially acquired by the Union on Monday, coming over on loan from the Brazilian club Bahia as part of a deal that enabled Philly to terminate the contract of Freddy Adu, who then signed with Bahia.
Hackworth said the 33-year-old Brazilian international will likely join the team on Thursday or Friday but that it’s unlikely he’ll travel to New Jersey for Saturday’s showdown vs. the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena (3:30 pm ET, NBC Sports Network, live chat on MLSsoccer.com).
But the Union manager said he’s spoken with Kléberson, who told him he’s excited to start a new chapter of his career.
It’s an excitement the Union coaches share, even if they are being cautious about the midfielder’s immediate impact.
“As an organization, we’re going to do something special for him to have an official announcement when he gets here,” Hackworth said. “It’s great that he’s coming. We look forward to having him. We think his experience and his quality is exceptional and is welcome in our locker room. At the same time, we’re not trying to push anything too fast.”
When he does get on the field, Kléberson will likely be used as a central midfielder, with Hackworth saying the Brazilian could play “somewhere between Brian Carroll and Michael Farfan.”
If he impresses, the Union have the option to renew his season-long loan deal at the end of the year.
“It definitely is an advantage to have a player of his stature who is in the latter part of his career came in on loan because that does make sense financially for our organization and where we are,” Hackworth said. “We feel like with this particular situation we brought in someone that can add a ton to our team but at the same time we’re not putting too much on the line that he is the one that has to change anything.
“We believe he’ll come in and add some value, for sure. But I would say it’s smart value all the way around.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at email@example.com.