DAVID SMITH - Tuesday, June 28, 2011
US international defender Oguchi Onyewu has signed a three-year contract with Portuguese giants Sporting CP, ending his difficult two-season spell with Italian champions AC Milan.
The club confirmed the deal to YA.
"Oguchi Onyewu is the latest reinforcement of Sporting," the team announced through their website. "The American central defender has signed a contract with the Lions for the next three seasons."
The two-time World Cup veteran for the US originally signed with Italian team AC Milan in the summer of 2009, however injuries and coaching changes limited the Washington DC native to only a single appearance.
After a long layoff on the club level due to a knee injury suffered in late-2009 while on international duty, he spent the first half of 2011 on a loan deal with Dutch team FC Twente, making a total of 14 appearances across league, cup and European competition.
Sporting's Director of Football Carlos Freitas is confident that Onyewu's previous experience with both the US and his former club teams at the top level will allow him to excel at the 18-time Portuguese champions.
"We have come close to working together on two occasions and on the third it has finally happened," Freitas explained in an official statement. "Oguchi will fit right into the spirit of the team and he is used to the pressure of representing such a big club."
The financial terms of the transfer from Milan were not publicly released, however Freitas indicated that they were quite favorable for the Lisbon-based club. "We have a good relationship with Milan and because of that it wasn't hard for us to come to an agreement."
Onyewu stated through the team his expectations to do his part to help them return to the top of Portuguese competition.
"In every team that I have played, I have always given 200% and I will do the same for Sporting," he stated. "I am at a massive club and it is a real privilege for any player to have the chance to play for Sporting. I want to help the team win the championship."
Despite having won the league a total of 18 times and the domestic cup on a further 19 occasions, Sporting are in the midst of a growing dry spell, with their last cup title coming in 2008 and their league championship following the 2001-02 season.
Sporting finished the 2010-11 season a distant third behind league heavyweights FC Porto and Benfica, and reached the final 32 of the Europa League, where they were knocked out by Rangers thanks to a goal by Onyewu's international teammate Maurice Edu.
They are set to compete once again in the Europa League, beginning in the playoff round in mid-August. Their domestic campaign is scheduled to begin on the weekend of August 14.