Babbel brokers deal to bring Swiss star to Wanderers
A BROTHERLY connection has helped Markus Babbel land the first piece of his rebuilding at Western Sydney -Swiss international midfielder Pirmin Schwegler.
The 32-year-old will come direct from the Bundesliga next season, having spent the past season as captain of Hannover 96.
But the club's relegation meant he was free to leave, and Babbel was able to broker the deal in person on holiday in Germany.
It is the second time he has signed a Schwegler, after bringing Pirmin's brother, Christian, to FC Luzern 18 months ago in the Swiss League.
Pirmin actually began his career at Luzern 16 years ago. After switching to Germany, he has amassed more than 250 matches for clubs such as Bayer Leverkusen, Eintracht Frankfurt and 1899 Hoffenheim.
"I am very excited to join the Western Sydney Wanderers and I'm counting down the days until I arrive," Schwegler said in a club statement.
"I am very proud to be part of the Red & Black and look forward to getting started."
In a video to Hannover fans, Schwegler expressed his regret at the club's relegation, but claimed the chance to play abroad was one he could not pass up.
"I got the chance to live in Australia for a while," he said. "It is a dream and an opportunity for my wife and me that you do not know if it will come back again.
"Nevertheless, the decision - especially in this difficult situation - is anything but easy and I have struggled for a very long time, because Hannover 96 has grown very close to my heart in the two years.
"Of course, I would like to leave the club in the first division. I'm sure the club will bounce back and I will follow it from a distance."
His signing will be the first of many. Western Sydney has released a tranche of players already, and others are expected to follow.
Captain Brendan Hamill severed ties on Tuesday. He is expected to sign with new club Western United.