John Brooks is among the more polarizing figures in the USMNT set-up.
The soon-to-be 23-year-old has an iconic World Cup goal and 18 caps under Jurgen Klinsmann, but his inconsistent positional focus drives fans bonkers (especially those who wish to see veteran center backs of MLS ilk like Matt Besler starting over him).
His mercurial performances have seen him in-and-out of Hertha Berlin’s lineup, too. Manager Pal Dardai called him “a diamond” when the tension is right, but needs more consistent play from the gigantic talent.
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But will that consistency come elsewhere?
Hertha wants to discuss a new contract before Christmas, according to Kicker, as the club would like to keep him around the Olympic Stadium. That said, if a deal isn’t reached, he just may be sold in January to avoid losing him for free in 2017.
The report from Kicker says Brooks was close to a contract extension during the 2014 World Cup, but changed agents. Now, he could move on from Berlin altogether, and the report says Brooks has “a soft spot for the Premier League.” Depth-starved clubs like Newcastle United, Crystal Palace and Aston Villa certainly might fit the bill.
In the same ESPN article with Dardai’s quote comes this one from Hertha captain Fabian Lustenberger: “When he can access his potential, he is an outstanding centre-back.”
That’s the thing with Brooks: There is no doubt that, when in top mindset, he is an elite talent at center back. Big and strong, a force on scrums at both ends of the pitch. But when off, he leaves gaps and makes bad decisions.
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Where can he find that? And is the answer if? Might it be key that he continue at a safe place in Hertha, one that knows his peaks, valleys and, most importantly, his potential?
That seems likely, but what if a move to a new place sets him straight for good? “Hey man, you’re wanted here. We just paid a boatload of dough for you. Now settle in. Here are your new habits. This is what we expect and accept.”
Interesting times for a man who, at his best, could pair with Geoff Cameron to be an absolute dynamite answer to the States’ age-old center back dilemma.