Sources: Michael Bradley to Aston Villa

Updated: January 29, 2011, 5:14 PM ET
By Luke Cyphers | ESPN The Magazine

U.S. midfielder Michael Bradley is heading to the English Premier League, sources said.

Bradley
Bradley

The 23-year-old will play the rest of the European season with Aston Villa on loan from his current club, struggling German side Borussia Moenchengladbach.

The move ends weeks of speculation that Bradley, who has a year and a half left on his Gladbach contract, might transfer to the EPL's Sunderland. But Sunderland's sale of forward Darren Bent to Aston Villa put them in need of a striker, apparently cooling their interest in Bradley.

The loan to Aston Villa will end in the summer, leaving Bradley with a year on his current Gladbach contract at the start of the summer's more active transfer market.

The loan also gives Bradley -- who had a breakout performance with the U.S. team at the 2010 World Cup -- a new lease on his club season.

Gladbach is mired in the Bundesliga relegation zone, and though Bradley has played solidly all year, with three goals and three assists through 19 games, he was benched recently as coach Michael Frontzeck looked in vain for a lineup that could produce results. At Villa, the American midfielder joins a team that's showed a renewed vigor since Bent's appearance.

Aston Villa marks the fourth club stop in Bradley's professional career. Drafted as a 16-year-old in 2004 by the MetroStars of MLS and coached by his father, current U.S. national team coach Bob Bradley, the younger Bradley spent two years in New Jersey before being sold to Heerenveen of the Dutch league.

Bradley scored 21 goals for the squad in 2007-08 competitions, a record for an American at a first-division European club. That led to a transfer to Moenchengladbach in summer 2008, where he's held a starting position for the better part of his stay.

At Aston Villa, Bradley joins fellow Americans Brad Friedel and Eric Lichaj.

Luke Cyphers is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.

Luke Cyphers is a former senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.