The eerie silence on the winter transfer front for the Philadelphia Union ended today with the announcement of the signing of Dutch left back Giliano Wijnaldum from 2. Bundesliga club VfL Bochum.
Wijnaldum, 24, has made only seven appearances since joining Bochum in 2015, but is a player Union Sporting Director Earnie Stewart is very familiar with from his time at AZ Alkmaar in the Dutch top-flight.
“As a young player who I have worked with before in the Netherlands, I know firsthand the potential he brings to our club,” Stewart said in a news release. “We are eager to integrate him within the squad and believe he has a bright future with the Union.”
Wijnaldum, listed at 5-foot-11 and 168 pounds, made 20 appearances at AZ from 2010-2013, playing the full 90 minutes in the Dutch Cup final they won in 2013 and made another 45 appearances in the first division for FC Groningen and Go Ahead Eagles before going to Germany. He’s also competed with the Netherlands U17, U18 and U20 squads.
Pending receipt of his International Transfer Certificate and P-1 Visa, Wijnaldum will occupy an international roster spot, leaving two remaining as it currently stands (Fabian Herbers, Roland Alberg, Eric Ayuk, Ilsinho and Joshua Yaro are the others).
He’ll benefit from day one in the club with the competition and guidance from veteran left back Fabinho, who will turn 32 in March. The Brazilian has made 88 starts for the Union since joining the club midway through the 2013 season and was tied for second (with Chris Pontius) in assists last season with six.
A Rotterdam native, Wijnaldum comes from a footballing family. His older brother, Georginio Wijnaldum is an attacking midfielder for Liverpool in the English Premier League and half-brother Rajiv van la Parra is a winger for Championship club Huddersfield Town in England.