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Michael Bradley swaps Germany for England as he joins Aston Villa on loan

January 31, 2011 |  2:36 pm

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Michael Bradley, the son of U.S. national soccer team Coach Bob Bradley, said Monday he was "proud and thrilled" to join Aston Villa after being loaned to the English Premier League team until the end of the season by his German club, Borussia Monchengladbach.

Aston Villa will have the option of making the move permanent once the loan period expires in May.

Bradley, 23, was a starter for the U.S. at the World Cup in South Africa last summer, and Villa's French coach, Gerard Houllier, said he had seen the midfielder in person at the World Cup and had been impressed by his work ethic.

"Michael is a very hard-working midfielder who can score goals and is versatile," Houllier said in a statement released by the club. "We're pleased that he is here at Aston Villa."

Bradley's playing career has taken him from the New York MetroStars of Major League Soccer to Heerenveen in the Dutch first division, where he scored 16 goals in 57 games between 2006 and 2008, to Borussia Monchengladbach in the German Bundesliga.

Playing primarily as a defensive midfielder, Bradley scored 10 goals in 76 matches for the German club, which is currently in last place in the league with only four victories in 20 games. Bradley had been benched in recent games by Borussia Coach Michael Frontzeck as the coach tried to stave off relegation to a lower division.

Villa, too, is struggling, and is in 13th place in the Premier League with only seven wins in 24 games, but Bradley said he was pleased to be switching clubs. The club's starting goalkeeper is another American, former U.S. World Cup standout Brad Friedel.

"I am really excited to be joining Villa," Bradley said. "I am proud and thrilled and can't wait to get going now. I want to play at the highest level and test myself in the biggest of games. . . .

"I try to be the guy in the center of midfield who imposes himself on the game and can get forward and get goals. I try to win tackles and, defensively, make it really hard on the other team in the center of the field.

"For me, the Premier League is the best league in the world. . . . The speed of the game, the power and the pace all stand out. To have the opportunity to come here and test myself at the highest level, week in and week out, is incredible. . . . It's a great challenge."

Bradley had also been linked to a move to Galatasaray in Turkey and to Palermo in Italy.

If the international transfer paperwork and visa issues can be resolved in time, Bradley could be available for Aston Villa's home match against Fulham on Saturday. In that case, Bradley could be playing against the top U.S. player in Europe at the moment, Fulham forward Clint Dempsey.

--Grahame L. Jones

Photo: Michael Bradley, left, with his father, U.S. national Coach Bob Bradley. Credit: Elise Amendola / Associated Press

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