Tranquillo Barnetta to leave Philadelphia Union after 2016 season

Tranquillo Barnetta - Philadelphia Union - September 3, 2016

Swiss midfielder Tranquillo Barnetta will leave the Philadelphia Union at the end of the 2016, the club announced on Tuesday.

Barnetta, 31, will return to Switzerland to rejoin Swiss Super League club FC St. Gallen, where he began his professional career in 2002.

“The entire soccer community here was so welcoming, and I’m so thankful to everyone at Philadelphia Union for making me feel so appreciated,” Barnetta said in a statement. “Playing in front of my friends and family and making plans for life at the end of my career where I want to live is a force I can’t resist.”

Barnetta, who played for a decade in the German Bundesliga before moving to Philly, has made 37 appearances since arriving at Talen Energy Stadium on July 29, 2015. In that time, he has posted six goals and seven assists.

This season, Barnetta has played an integral role in the side's surprising 2016 campaign, notching five goals and four assists. The Union currently sit in 4th place in the Eastern Conference and poised to make the Audi 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2011 and only the second time in club history.  

“Tranquillo has been a key piece in what we’re trying to build here in Philadelphia, but we appreciate his decision to return to Switzerland,” Union Sporting Director Earnie Stewart said. “We look forward to continuing to push for the postseason.”