John Brooks may be released by Hertha Berlin, possibly as early as Wednesday, according to Berliner Zeitung. The German paper says that the American has been sent down to the U-23 team and his time with the club could be nearing an end.
Brooks has been very good for Hertha, at times. He has also had some very bad performances and manager Jos Luhukay has reportedly had enough of the inconsistency. He was willing to put up with it last season, Brooks' first in the top flight, but wanted to see him improve this campaign and, to this point, doesn't think it has.
Still, that some inconsistency would lead Hertha to release him is unlikely. He is still just 21 years old, extremely talented and has shown that, when he is on his game, can be excellent. That isn't a player a club just cuts loose because he has been a bit uneven. If he was, several other teams in the league would move very quickly to sign him, his potential is so great and on-field performance solid enough.
There is almost certainly more the story than just some inconsistency. Last season, Brooks has to sit for a couple weeks after getting a back tattoo because sweating could lead to infection. After that, Luhukay made it clear that Brooks needed to be more mature and become more professional.
Brooks returned from his tattoo incident, played for Hertha, made the United States World Cup team and looked set for a big season in the Bundesliga, but it hasn't quite come to fruition. He's been pretty good for the club, starting in three matches, but there appears to still be friction between Brooks and Luhukay again. Has the 21-year-old not shown the maturity the manager wanted to see from him and done something else to draw his ire?
At this point, it's still unclear what exactly the problem is, or if there is even a problem. This is a single report so it may not be true. It is very odd and seems like it must be false because teams don't just release players like Brooks, but it does bear watching. Brooks wasn't even on the bench for Hertha this weekend, and there has been a previous issue with him and the manager before. It isn't something that would be completely ridiculous, although certainly unusual.
Brooks is one of the bright spots for the future of the U.S. He is immensely talented, has already played in a World Cup and is in a top league. He even has a pretty good situation at Hertha. It would be a shame if anything derailed it, for him and the U.S.