The New York Red Bulls obtained midfielder Sacha Kljestan in a transfer deal from Anderlecht of the Belgian Pro League in a deal that was formally announced late this afternoon. The terms of the transfer were not disclosed and the terms of the contract with the player were also not disclosed by MLS.
Kljestan is coming off his best season with Anderlecht where the 29 year old scored 9 goals and played in the Champions League competition. The former U.S. Men's National team member has made 46 international appearances and tallied 4 goals at that level. He also formerly played in MLS for Chivas USA from 2006 - 2009 where he was runner up in the Rookie of the Year voting and was a teammate of current Red Bulls Head Coach Jesse Marsch.
Kljestan's prior stint with the U.S. Men's National Team required that the Red Bulls had to go through the allocation system in order to acquire him, per MLS regulations; due to the fact that other teams were also interested in signing the dynamic midfielder the Red Bulls engineered a trade with the Montreal Impact, who held the top spot in the allocation order.
The new Red Bulls Sporting Director, Ali Curtis, described the acquisition of Sacha Kljestan as a complex deal with time sensitivity and involving multiple parties in his conference call with the media this afternoon. Mr. Curtis described the motivation behind the deal very simply as: "Sacha was a player we identified for a long time". He continued by saying that the front office and the coaching staff expects Kljestan to play a "leadership role" with the Red Bulls and that he is "a high character guy".
When asked about the surplus of central midfielders on the roster he replied that "Things are developing" and that the team plans to "add more pieces". He described Kljestan as "a versatile midfielder" who will fit the style they want to play which is "a high tempo style".
Sporting Director Curtis reiterated that the terms of the transfer were undisclosed and when asked whether the contract was a Designated Player contract, he replied " It is not a DP contract, it is a multi-year deal but the terms are undisclosed". When asked whether his prior experience working in the league offices helped with a transfer of this type, Mr. Curtis replied, "My experience helped in getting this complicated transfer completed".
When asked where Kljestan would play positionally on the field, Sporting Director Curtis replied: "Potentially on the left or in the middle". He also acknowledged that the team had a lot of depth at midfield with this move and that he is still exploring ways to add to the roster "still looking at striker and in the defense" to bolster the club prior to the season opener in Kansas City on March 8th.
In my view, the Red Bulls utilized their assets to make a trade with Montreal which allowed them to upgrade their roster with the addition of a high caliber player to replace Eric Alexander on the roster. In a similarity to Alexander, both players are versatile and capable of playing multiple spots throughout the midfield. It should be interesting to see what the new regime in the front office has in store for this team in the coming days. The addition of Sacha Kljestan is a very good start.