Fabian Johnson still has three months left at Hoffenheim, but he already knows where he will play next season -- Borussia Monchengladbach. The 26-year-old has signed a pre-contract with Gladbach and will join the club when his contract with Hoffenheim expires this summer.
Gladbach currently sit sixth in the Bundesliga, six points out of fourth place and a Champions League place so they are a major step up from Hoffenheim, who have been in and out of the relegation race the last two seasons.
"Fabian Johnson is a very interesting player who can play attacking or defensive roles on either flank. He comes on a free transfer and we're delighted he's opted to join us," said Gladbach sporting director Max Eberl.
Johnson's versatility may have been the driving force in Gladbach signing him. Juan Arango is 33 years old and his contract expires this summer, leaving a question mark at left midfield, while Oscar Wendt's recent knee injury exposed how thin they are at left back. Odds are that Gladbach didn't sign Johnson to step in and be a starter from Day 1, even at left midfield where they have 21-year-old Branimir Hrgota pushing for more playing time, but they lack depth at both positions and having one player who can add squad depth at both is valuable.
Not being a first choice starter wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing either. Even as second choice at left back and left midfield, he would probably make 20 starts in all competitions just from injury, form and squad rotations, while adding regular substitute appearances too.
In the short-term, Jurgen Klinsmann and the U.S. are concerned with how he finishes the season for Hoffenheim and sets himself up for the World Cup. Injuries and a dip in form haven't helped, although his cameo at right back two weeks ago was intriguing, but at least the long-term is secured -- it's in Monchengladbach.