Aron Johansson has been plagued with injury problems ever since making a €4.2 million move from AZ Alkmaar to Werder Bremen over the summer. Shortly after transferring to Germany he had hip surgery, which kept the Icelandic-American sidelined since October. Recurring injury problems have kept him off the field, and Bremen has now issued a statement stating that he will not be available for the rest of the season. With all of these injury problems its reasonable to ask if he will still have a place at Werder Bremen after missing almost an entire season. If Bremen decides to cut their losses, or if Johansson wants to try something new, he would be a great fit in Philadelphia.
When asked if a move to MLS was in his future Johansson said that he wanted to play in the United States "at the peak of my career," and at 25 years old he is certainly nearing his physical peak. While he may still want to develop in Europe, a big contract from an MLS team could lure him stateside.
Johansson transferred to AZ while Earnie Stewart was the Sporting Director at the club, then proceeded to have his most successful season of his career at the Dutch club, scoring 25 goals and adding 7 assists in the 2013-2014 season. Stewart and Johansson have history together at AZ, and if Johansson wants a move to MLS the Union would be a logical place for him to land. Philadelphia might not have the appeal of New York City FC, New York Red Bulls, LA Galaxy, or Toronto FC, but Earnie Stewart could use his connection to Johansson to bring him to Chester. Stewart has already shown his willingness to target players with Eredivisie experience with his signing of Roland Alberg from ADO Den Haag.
The Union are very thin at the striker position, with CJ Sapong starting and rookie Fabian Herbers serving as his backup. The team is in desperate need of some depth up top. If the Union could sign Johansson, it would automatically make the one-two punch of Sapong and Johansson one of the better striker pairings in MLS. The two would work well together in a 4-4-2 with Sapong holding the ball up and Johansson playing off of him as a second striker.
The only concern for the Union is the big paycheck that Johansson would need to play in the United States. Signing current and former national team players has proved to be very expensive, with high-profile Americans like Jozy Atidore, Michael Bradley, and Clint Dempsey all making $4.5-6.5 million annually. Johansson is not as a big a name as any of those three, but he would still command a hefty salary that a notoriously frugal team like the Union would probably balk at.
If the ownership of the Union decide to invest in a player like Johansson the risk is certainly high, but the reward is higher. The worst case scenario is that the Union sign a big-money Designated Player who has lingering injury problems and never produces for Philadelphia, but the best case scenario is that the franchise gets it's first real star player who can contend for a golden boot and is still young enough at 25 to build a team around.
Signing Aron Johansson is a calculated risk, but its a risk worth taking.