Brazilian reports identify Kleberson as player heading to Union for Adu

Kleberson (Getty)


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.

    • Drew

      I’d take a bag of balls over Adu right now… if Hackworth screws this up he’s done and if Kleberson pans out to be a solid contribution we win too… Win/Win considering a month ago it looked pretty bad, but not sure I like the direction this team is going…


    • Josh D

      Quick answer: no. But that answer comes from someone who was massively disappointed with his time playing for United. He’s another player who has continued earning a large salary based on reputation. I don’t think he fits Philly’s hardworking style.

      I’m just happy for Adu.


      • nilson

        Hi good morning everyone, I saw some videos of Adu and I was impressed, remember a game of it by the U.S. team against the Brazilian team, poe glad he is coming to play here in Bahia, the best team in the state.


    • The Imperative Voice

      I agree I would not be surprised if salary was a wash, but in each case the teams probably think they’re putting one over on the other. “Sucker.”

      The swap makes more sense than an Adu signing. Why would you add iffy Freddy to everything else you have to pay for, on a modest team? But if the Union help them shed salary….then they get Kleberson off the books and can see what Freddy has. They get rid of a player they absolutely want gone — just like Philly — and if Freddy fails they cut him.


  • Jake

    This is a huge coup for the Union (assuming they aren’t spending too much on Kleberson). If I were them, I’d just have been happy to unload Adu.


  • Grubbsbl

    This move somewhat puzzles me all around. I like Adu’s ambition but let’s be honest, is he good enough for the Brazilian league? My heart says yes – I like the player and am more likely to blame MLS’s lack of tactical and technical emphasis on his struggles (Adu often looked on a different level and page in possession that his Union teammates). But I also know that Adu often fails to influence the game the way a 10 should. And he doesn’t justify having zero defensive responsibility in a side. Hopefully he succeeds and finds his feet.

    On to Kleberson. He struggled with the physicality, and lack of space in England. Most importantly he wasn’t the right fit in United’s 2 man central mid system. From what I remember, Kleberson seemed o be a decent two way mid when he had a deep lying playmaker and an attacking mid as his other partner. I haven’t seen enough of him lately or of the Union this season to know how he would fit in. What I do know is that the middle of the park in MLS is not the part of the field with a lot of space and teams try to pack it with grinders, tacklers and workers. Will be interesting to see how Kleberson adapts, but if anyone is expecting a dynamic attacking talent then they are dreaming. I’m thinking more Ramieres without the pace and desire to get stuck in on the regular


    • The Imperative Voice

      Maybe I’m wrong but I thought the Brazilian league stereotype was heavy fouling. Technically sharp yes but physical. I’m not sure if that’s Freddy, he likes to play in space, isn’t a two way worker on defense.

      I think Freddy, like Jozy, would do better in Holland, where offense is the emphasis and defense is optional. Freddy may have some jukes but not speed or physicality.


    • andrewfroboy

      Bahia plays in the Northeast, current season is against teams in their local area, much worse than the MLS by all estimations. Bahia will play in the Brazilian national league later this year, but I don’t think the competition is that much absurdly better than the MLS at the middle and bottom of the table


      • Tony in Quakeland

        Shame on you for not seconding the reflective “every leage everywhere is better than MLS” mindset.


    • Music

      “But I also know that Adu often fails to influence the game the way a 10 should.”

      He needs to be played as a 10 to play as a 10.


    • Vic

      Don’t think he should play number 10. Bradley used him effectively as a forward in the Gold Cup.


  • biff

    Does this mean that Freddy’s contract would still be with Philadelphia and Kleberson’s with the Brazil club and they are both being loaned out? If not, I do not understand how this can be clearing the books financially for both teams.



    This all gets confusing. The conventional wisdom is that Adu is not physical enough for MLS, plays no defense, and expects to be treated differently from the other players. (I suspect that none of those things are true, but that’s the way it goes with conventional wisdom.) Now the Union are adding a player who is reputed to be not very physical and has had a much higher status career than any of his new team mates(and based on similar situations in MLS, will likely expect to be treated differently than the other players). Perhaps the Union and Hackworth know what they are doing, but you do have to wonder.


    • The Imperative Voice

      Maybe they think they get a better player in the swap, who is not so much their cancer as the other guy’s (they hope). At minimum, each gets rid of their immediate problem.

      But if the players are generally difficult, then each will find out shortly they merely kicked the can down the road a little.


      • Mike

        > merely kicked the can down the road a little

        I think you’re spot on. At this point Hackworth needs Adu gone regardless of any return. If Kleberson is exactly the same player as Adu at least Hackworth can learn from his mistakes in the Adu saga and start over.

        It’s a bit of a pride-move is what I’m saying


    • The Imperative Voice

      33 y/o DM w/ 32 Brazil caps, played some at the ’02 World Cup. ManU (flush after two seasons), Besiktas (flush after two more), back to Brazil.


  • Old School

    Great job MLS. Trading the services of a 23 year old for 33 year old is exactly what our league needs.


    • Jay

      A 23 year old who can’t seem to get it right no matter where he goes. I’d love for him to stay but why keep a player who nobody wants. This a perfect case for where something is better then nothing.


    • crosswiredmind

      Which is better – a 23 year old who refuses to learn and blames his failure on everyone else, or a 33 year old who could help raise a whole team’s gam?.


      • Nic D "The TX 2 Stepper"

        Better the “Devil” you know than the one you don’t … Not that Adu or Kleberson are devils


  • PD

    It will be interesting to see. If this was about offloading Adu to anyone, perhaps the deal is not done yet; it’s possible Kleberson will land up at another club that Philly trades him to.

    As for the comment “surprising and impressive run” .. That’s an overly generous assessment at this point. The revolution match was an expected result and a dreadful match to watch (conditions did not help). Colorado is another team with struggles right now, so getting a point was a coin toss. The first half of SKC was impressive, but the result was not.

    I’m happy that they are grinding things out, but against tougher competition this won’t be good enough. They need a real playmaker and a real #1. Until then we’re not going to see the brand of soccer that Hackworth is advertising.


  • Shane

    So they’re getting a player with similar issues, except the one leaving is young and American. This is BS. Of course if it works out for Adu in Brazil all will be good.


  • Dennis

    I hope for Philly’s sake that the 33 year-old brings more smarts to the pitch than the 23 year-old Adu did. If he is truly a wash technically, then if he can play in a way that does not leave his teammates wondering where he has disappeared to, he will be an improvement, at least in the short term.


  • SD

    I don’t get this deal. It seems like they are similar players. Do the Union think they are getting a better player because he’s Brazilian? Freddy can’t seem to stick anywhere. Even if he does enjoy a good season, he’ll start drinking the Kool Aid again and begin spreading his toxicity…..

    Freddy does play well for the Nats offensively, he just has too many holes in the other parts of his game…it’s a pity that he didn’t have finishers with him at the Union, then this would be a different conversation….

    Plus I don’t understand how Hackworth can blame Freddy if the team overall wasn’t that strong. I’m not a Freddy fan but I am not sure if he really got a fair shake at the Union….every place else, I believe he was a jerk. The most telling, Hector Cuper raved about him after Juventus played Monaco. So when Cuper was at Aris, he bought in Freddy and somehow Freddy was’t Cuper’s love child anymore….

    I am rooting for him but he just doesn’t seem to want to believe that maybe it’s him……


    • crosswiredmind

      Speaking as a Union supporter – Freddy had his shot and then some. He whined about playing time, he whined about playing out of position, he would disappear from a match if things weren’t going his way. He has talent, but he also has an over inflated ego, and does not play well with others. For the sake of the USMNT, I hope he get his act together. Somehow I kinda doubt we will ever see him on the National Team again.


      • SoB

        Agree 100%. The Freddy apologists need to do the math. 9 teams in 9 years.



        It seems a shame to spend even more time fussing about Adu, but young players who bounce from one club to another are not unusual in Europe, particularly players who are much stronger in one part of their game than in others and who have big contracts. Big clubs like Benfica have whole stables of young prospects that they put out on loan to different clubs year after year until their contracts run out. It doesn’t mean that the players involved are bad people, locker room cancers or whatever else Adu is supposed to be. It’s just the way the big time soccer world works. A player like Adu makes sense for only some clubs and he comes at a high price.


  • John

    This is addition-by-subtraction. It may be an even contract swap, but Kleberson doesn’t come with Adu’s baggage and reputation. If he gets parked on the bench and never sees the field, no one will be upset. They’ll just be happy that Adu is gone.

    Good luck, Freddy. You have game. Hopefully you’ll find the head and heart to match it.


  • John O'Brien

    I think this is great all around. You’d have to figure that if anyone can figure out how to use a player like Adu effectively it would be the Brazilians. Adu wasn’t in Philadelphia’s lineup so Kleberson is an upgrade right there for the Union.

    I really hope this works out for Adu.


  • Nic D "The TX 2 Stepper"

    Methinks that ….

    Fredua will be fine.
    Hackworth will be fired.

    and the Bethlehem Steel tribute jerseys are the best thing since sliced bread


    • stpauljosh

      “and the Bethlehem Steel tribute jerseys are the best thing since sliced bread”

      needed to be said again.

      …and I don’t even like Philly.


      • Nic D "The TX 2 Stepper"

        Me Either but that jersey is SICK. Especially the Felt badge and other accouterments.

        If ATL had a team, I would want a simple and clean Peach colored 3rd Jersey with either Baby Blue or White Trim (and of course a “Chi-Fil-A” sponsorship)


  • schmeeboo

    Wow. Good for Freddy. He’s going to a great town, country, and league for football players.


  • Jeffery

    Long time Union fan and professional locksmith in Philadelphia. I would have preferred a straight transfer to give us more cash flexibility going forward but as long as Adu is off the roster and we’ve added another veteran, I have to say this move works out pretty well for the U.


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