Bar­netta nearly ready to go home to Switzer­land

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Matthew DeGe­orge mde­ge­orge@21st-cen­tu­ry­ @sports­doc­tormd on Twit­ter

What had been spec­u­lated for weeks was made of­fi­cial Tues­day morn­ing, in an odd twist to the Philadel­phia Union’s quest for the play­offs.

The club an­nounced that mid­fielder Tran­quillo Bar­netta will re­turn to FC St. Gallen in Switzer­land at the end of the sea­son, end­ing a year-and-a-half stint with the club.

Bar­netta, who joined the Union in Aug. 2015, has played 37 matches for the Union, scor­ing six goals and seven as­sists. He will re­main with the club for the du­ra­tion of the sea­son and the post­sea­son, pend­ing qual­i­fi­ca­tion.

“The en­tire soc­cer com­mu­nity here was so wel­com­ing, and I’m so thank­ful to ev­ery­one at Philadel­phia Union for mak­ing me feel so ap­pre­ci­ated,” Bar­netta said in a club state­ment. “Play­ing in front of my friends and fam­ily and mak­ing plans for life at the end of my ca­reer where I want to live is a force I can’t re­sist.”

The 31-year-old Swiss mid­fielder started his ca­reer at St. Gallen be­fore sign­ing with Ger­man club Bayer Lev­erkusen just af­ter his 19th birth­day. He played two sea­sons in St. Gallen’s first team prior to the move to the Ger­man gi­ants.

Bar­netta, who joined the Union af­ter his con­tract with Schalke ex­pired last summer, told Swiss me­dia two weeks ago that he wanted to re­turn to his home club in a po­si­tion to con­trib­ute.

Bar­netta has been capped 75 times by the Swiss na­tional team, play­ing in three World Cups. His ac­qui­si­tion last year pre­saged the kind of shrewd moves made by Union Sport­ing Direc­tor Earnie Ste­wart and his ad­min­is­tra­tion. Bar­netta has served as a team cap­tain for long stretches and adapted ad­mirably to the phys­i­cal­ity of MLS.

“Tran­quillo has been a key piece in what we’re try­ing to build here in Philadel­phia, but we ap­pre­ci­ate his de­ci­sion to re­turn to Switzer­land,” Ste­wart said. “We look for­ward to con­tin­u­ing to push for the post­sea­son.”

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