According to Austrian reporter Peter Linden, the New York Red Bulls are attempting to acquire Zlatko Junuzović from Salzburg. The 33-year-old midfielder is rumored to have an existing “follow-up contract” with the MLS club, negotiated by his advisor, Thomas Böhm. His current contract lasts through June of 2022 and there are “internal consultations” yet to be resolved. Gerhard Struber is said to be pushing for an earlier move, appealing to sporting director Christoph Freund, with whom there is a friendly relationship.
Four days ago, Sky Sports reported that Junuzović could leave for the United States. In 2018, he was connected to MLS, with Orlando City, the Philadelphia Union, and Chicago Fire rumored to be interested. However, the “guaranteed seven-figure salary” from Salzburg secured his signature.
Despite being older than the club’s usual players, Junuzović made 39 total appearances last season, contributing two goals and nine assists. He was a consistent starter for Jesse Marsch, but has experienced some significant injury issues in the past. Junuzović has earned 55 caps for Austria scoring 7 goals, and spent the majority of his club career prior to Salzburg with Austria Wien and most notably with German club Werder Bremen.
Junuzović is a fantastic shuttler, carrying the ball forward and jump-starting the fast-paced vertical attack. Whether through tricky dribbling or line-cutting passing, the 5’8” midfielder is a perfect fit for the Red Bull style of play and an asset in the final third. He’s also known for his free-kick taking abilities, developing a reputation as a dead ball specialist.
This season, the Red Bulls have placed a greater priority on central midfield play, regularly deploying four in a 4-4-2 formation. While the club has placed a priority on signing younger talents to develop, Junuzović is coming off a season in which he was one of the key players for the Austrian Bundesliga champions. With Florian Valot and Youba Diarra suffering from injury issues, the club needs more depth at the position. Manager Gerhard Struber has stated an appreciation for veteran players, believing they have a firmer grasp of tactics and can perform immediately.
[h/t @MostlyBullNY on Twitter]