Roster News

Barnetta to leave Union after 2016, return to first club in Switzerland

Photo: Earl Gardner

Philadelphia Union have announced Tranquillo Barnetta will end his career with the club after the 2016 season to return to Switzerland and play for his hometown club, St. Gallen.

Barnetta said in a statement, “The entire soccer community here was so welcoming, and I’m so thankful to everyone at Philadelphia Union for making me feel so appreciated. 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.”

Photo: Courtesy of St. Gallen

Photo: Courtesy of St. Gallen

In a post on Facebook, Barnetta reiterates his thanks to the fans and the team, adding, “Let’s secure [a] playoffs [spot] now!”

An announcement on the St. Gallen website says Barnetta will rejoin the club in January of 2017 after signing a contract through the summer of 2019 (translation here).

Since joining the Union in July of 2015, Barnetta has appeared in 37 matches, scoring six goals and recording seven assists. The latest figures from the MLS Players Union have Barnetta making $687,500 for the 2016 season.

Union sporting director Earnie Stewart said, “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. We look forward to continuing to push for the postseason.”

Swiss newspaper St. Galler Tagblatt reported on Sept. 13 that, with his contract with the Union expiring at the end of the year, Barnetta had asked the team for time to consider whether he would extend his contract or return to his hometown club.

“Life here is great and exactly what I was looking for the one and a half years,” Barnetta told the newspaper of his time with the Union. “I am in top shape, and I always wanted to return to St. Gallen in top form. The question is whether now is the right time.”

For Barnetta the answer to his question is yes.


  1. This makes me sadder then I would have expected. I like him a lot. But he deserves to end his career on his own terms. I wish him the best.

  2. Lucky Striker says:

    So he’s a man of his word, and my memory isn’t as gone as I feared.

    Thank You ‘quillo, now go out in style.

  3. Sucks but honestly, with Bedoya + another offseason for Earnie to work his magic, and the academy kids to fill in, I’m not THAT distraught.

    Next year we can do something like Edu – Jones – Bedoya or Edu – Bedoya – Alberg (at 6-8-10).

  4. Unsurprising and happy for him to return to his roots. I wish him nothing but the best to a great pro.

  5. This is fine. I understand. That said, I hope the nature of these choices moving forward are heavily considered when signing a ‘big name european player later in his career.
    Its a kick in the teeth to have a player of his caliber come here and leave in two years IMO. Kind of a why bother exercise in my point of view.
    This much I’ll tell you…. Alejandro Bedoya is NOT A 10 and if they put him in the ten…..I’ll be really disappointed.
    Our two best players will have left the team in one season.

    • Nantes seemed to feel like he was a 10. I don’t see an issue playing him there in a high pressure 4-2-3-1.
      Last weekend’s game was probably his best, even if you don’t consider the goal. He was great in possession, made great runs which pushed the opponents back 4 deeper than any game this season, and pressed the hell out of the ball.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        Fair argument.
        Not ideal from my POV. When I think of attacking midfielder Alejandro Bedoya does not come to mind…
        My role for the ten may be different than what is required in this league. To that I accept responsibility.

      • I totally agree he’s anything but a traditional 10. Not a huge goal scorer, doesn’t pick out the sly pass to unlock a defense.
        But if the idea is to have our defense create our offense, I think that plays to his strengths honestly.

      • First Time Long Time says:

        Oddly enough, watching the first half this past weekend caused the thought of “If Barnetta leaves, maybe Bedoya is the answer at the 10”. Certainly a different player, but it was exciting to watch until he got the knock in the second half.

      • Lucky Striker says:

        Ale is an attacker, not a central defender. LAM or CAM in this system.

        Bright side:
        Should Pontius choose to walk as well he’ll have his choice !

    • It hurts to lose your two best players. Especially in the same season. I hope this isn’t indicative of a culture at the Union that makes European players feel… uncomfortable. If we can’t attract AND retain those kind of players, or at least profit from their sale…

      As far as Bedoya is concerned, I will hold judgement about his ability to play the 10. He looked great until that knock in the 2nd half against Toronto so it remains to be seen.

      • I don’t think Barnetta’s decision has much to do with the club. It’s more about where he wants to spend the rest of his career. I would not, however, be surprised, if Pro referee performance factored into his decision, though….

      • Lucky Striker says:

        this, and that……

  6. Sadly this is not shocking but will certainly miss him not only for his skills but his attitude on and off the field. A true professional and one of the “good” ones (like LeToux).
    This make sense with the Kratz signing. I am interested to find out more about him and his abilities.
    An interesting thought, maybe this paves the way for Herbers at the 10 with Bedoya and Edu sitting behind him? I also would not mind a 6/8 combo of Edu and Jones.

    • Derrick Jones cannot hold the ball and fend off pressure while waiting for opportunity to develop. And this is at the USL level. Every time he was double-teamed on Sunday, he lost it.
      Playing with better players will mask the weakness, but think of Nogueira and Barnetta. Each could possess the ball under pressure for a few touches and then break away to continue possession and the attack. That I do not yet see from Jones.
      He does many other things very well. Excellent ball winner. excellent side to side range. Dangerous aerially on restarts. But possession under pressure followed by separation is not there yet.

      • Tim, I appreciate your insights in to Jones as I have only seen him play a couple of times. My view is that with him at the 6, doing the things you mentioned to shield the backs. I would consider that an upgrade from a year older Brian Carrol and an even more helpless on the ball Warren Creavalle. I think it is wishful thinking that he is going to be ready for next season but I also think its a possibility.

        That being said, I would assume its Mo and Bedoya at the 6/8 and I think unless someone else steps up or we bring someone else in, Herbers has earned the 10 spot at this juncture.

  7. First Time Long Time says:

    I will say this, from a pure non-results perspective, it’s kind of nice to have players leaving the Union that make me feel genuinely sad. Players of quality and character that you can bitter-sweetly be happy they are on to another step, but sad to see them go. It’s been a bit different the last few years with the different approach to guys coming in, easy to lose sight of that in all the growing pains. Don’t often get that feeling in other sports.

    • As someone that’s only followed the team since ’13 I’ve almost moved past that feeling. I just assume everyone will leave after 2 or 3 seasons. Looking back at some of the team posters I’ve kept, pretty much all the player’s on them have moved on.

      • First Time Long Time says:

        Definitely the reality of things. Especially with Earnie in place now (In Earnie We Trust), I think we will see a lot more movement on that time frame.

        Tough to lose three guys that gave you their all every game though, Barnetta was no exception.

  8. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!

  9. I wish him all the best. It was great to have him here.

  10. Tranquillo, you will be missed. Such class, creativity, and heart. You were, and are still, too good for this league. Thank you for your professionalism. Thank you for making this team better.
    What a roller coaster of a season. It’s like getting gut punched in the middle of standing for the wave.

    • Rosco P. Coltrane says:

      Although Tranquillo’s decision is bad news, picturing your analogy made me chuckle. Describes this season’s additions and departures perfectly.

  11. This makes me sad, as sad as when Nogs left. As sad as when they traded Le Toux. Why doesn’t this team keep the professionals they have on the team. The only true professional left on this team is Carroll. This has made for a sad day. Even sadder that likely now that Barnetta goes back to Switzerland that I will no longer be able to watch him play. I get it players want to be where makes them the happiest, but the Union has got to step up. No Barnetta, No Nogs, someone has stated Edu contract is up/ plus he hasn’t played in a game since last year, Le Toux is gone, Carroll is aging who’s team is this now?? We’ve had one of the youngest teams for years and seem to only be getting younger now we need a veteran or two on the roster. This makes me sad. I am thinking at the end of the season Ilsinho, Edu, Carroll, and Creavalle could all be gone as well.

    • we will disagree on my point, but I’ll still make it. The only one on your list of four that I’d keep is Edu.

      • Lucky Striker says:

        and even him only with full medical clearance and a drastic pay cut.

      • I’d keep Edu at a drastic pay cut, but to me I’m talking he is not worth much more than Carroll and Carroll makes $120,000. Most I would pay for Edu it $200,000 and even that is a stretch. Ultimately I say let Edu all players on 1 year contracts currently walk, except Pontius as he is our leading goal scorer.

  12. I am bummed that Barnetta is leaving, though he plays his ass off every week, and I respect his decision and wish him the best. Meanwhile, his departure will give us almost $700K to recruit someone else. Betcha Ernie has some Dutchman in mind to run our offense.

    • He better have someone in mind and someone who is a professional and bust their ass and is a team player like Barnetta.

    • I’d rather a German than a Dutchman. The styles of play are closer, according to Earnie at some point earlier this year.

    • Agreed. Love Barnetta as a player, but I would rather have him leave earlier than expected rather than stay too long so we see his eventual decline. He’ll be 32 next year with a lot of miles on his odometer. Hope that we send him off right with a playoff berth.

      • I think Barnetta could’ve been pretty relevant in MLS till 34 I would not have let him go yet.

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        Sounds like there wasn’t a decision to be made on the Union side.

      • True. I agree with this I think he left because he wanted to go to his home club. But I wish they would’ve seen if there wasn’t some way they could’ve kept him. Wishful thinking on my end.

      • You could very well be right on this, but no one knows until we get there for sure. Which is why I wrote what I wrote. If I were Stewart, I wouldn’t have given Barnetta a raise if he wanted to stay as the risk is too great.

  13. Not completely unexpected but also not the best news we wanted to hear. Maybe he watched the debate last night and decided the best course of action was to flee the country.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      If I had the option… I would 🙂

    • Ich heisse Rolf says:

      I must say all the “civil unrest” that has been going on in this country lately just can’t be doing a whole lot to make foreigners feel like America is such a fabulous place to live … Let’s see, America is full of racist white cops who get out of bed every morning planning on gunning down innocent young African-Americans, or so I am constantly told by the Lame Stream Media. America is full of greedy rich people constantly trying to steal from and otherwise oppress righteous poor people, minorities in particular, or so I am constantly told by the Lame Stream Media. And then there is that “War On Women” thing that many Americans have been engaging in for quite some time, or so I am constantly told by the Lame Steam Media … No wonder Barnetta bolted.

  14. Is his timing a rallying cry for this team now and in playoffs? Hope so.
    These painful departures are the personal preference of each player, not s reflection on the franchise.

  15. I echo the disappointment, the respect and the appreciation for Tranquillo Barnetta. He is doing what he said he was going to do at the beginning of his tenure. He has been worth every penny.
    Many thanks!

    • Agreed worth every penny and more when it comes to his professionalism and leadership during a time of turmoil and change.

  16. A class act, fantastic player with both drive and creativity on the field. I know he was only here for a little over a year, but he will be sorely missed. I can only hope that he, nogs and seba all come back for a testimonial match some day.

  17. He most not have read my letter from Wednesday. On a serious note, I’m bummed to see him go, but completely understand. It’s been great watching him play for us, and I hope it continues well into the fall.

  18. OneManWolfpack says:

    Thanks to THE CALM for a great season and a half… and thanks for being professional about it… and GOOD LUCK back home. For MLS he makes serious money. Giving that to ES in the off-season is exciting. It’s going to be fun to think what he will do with it. #InESweTrust

  19. Best of luck to you Quillo. So glad we had you for a short time. You are one of the best to wear the blue and gold! Hope you had as much fun as we did!

  20. Shadow of Vinny Nogs says:

    Time to try and woo Gourcuff then

  21. The Cliff of Union Despair seems alive and well…………

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