Tuesday, December 6, 2005
Hamburg head of scouting Bernd Legien has verified that the second place Bundesliga club are working to sign US Under-17 striker Preston Zimmerman, as reported by YA.

While the club must either find a way counter a FIFA youth rule or wait until November of 2006 when the player turns 18, the executive stated that a November training visit was more than a typical audition.

"A trial sounds like we don't know the player at all and he comes here so we can see him for the first time," Legien told YA on Tuesday. "We have seen him before at different events. We were just at the Nike Friendlies for two weeks. We also saw him at the Under-17 World Cup."

"And because he was very impressive we invited him [to Hamburg] to train and to get to know him. We would like to sign him, that is no secret, but we are presently trying to overcome the problems concerning transfers [of players who are] under 18 - there are a lot of complicated rules."

FIFA rules require an American player to be 18 years of age before any overseas transfer – a rule that also seems to ensure that Freddy Adu will remain in MLS for a good while, despite rampant European winks from the likes of AC Milan, Ajax, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Inter Milan, Manchester United and PSV Eindhoven.

Zimmerman's ancestry could allow him a German passport, but that would only be a matter for after he arrived, says Legien.

"We are in contact. The player wants to come. We hope we can make it happen with the FIFA," he summarized. "We are also in contact with the American association, with (USSF director) Tom King, and are trying to get some help if it is possible."

Despite his tender age, Zimmerman is viewed as an immediate candidate to be Benny Feilhaber's HSV II teammate, bypassing their Under-19 side completely.

Legien also confirmed that they would wait the year to sign the forward, if it was necessary. "Exactly," he stated. "Just like Benny."

For now, Hamburg are fighting FIFA on the youth rule, which Legien believes is far too broad.

"The (USSF) made it apparent to us that they want as many players as possible to make their way to Europe because they think that the players have a better chance to develop here," he revealed. "[Preston] is at Bradenton and he has to make decision anyway, either MLS or to a university."

"This is a dumb situation. The rule has only been in existence for two years from FIFA. The idea was so that you can't just take a bunch of players from South America and Africa for little money. I think for players from America, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Japan, that it is a different situation."

"I have an appointment next week with Tom King. He is here anyway because the World Cup and the base camp is in Hamburg. And we are going to discuss the possible things we can do [to make it happen]. I hope that something concrete will happen before Christmas."

[note]YA's Harris King also contributed to this report[/note]

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