You are forgiven if you hadn’t heard of Jamiro Monteiro before the Union signed the Dutch midfielder to a four-month loan deal this week.
But Union sporting director Ernst Tanner had an eye on Monteiro since early last summer, when the player was still at Dutch club Heracles Almelo. And he wasn’t alone. French club Metz splashed $3.5 million to buy Monteiro from Heracles in late July, a big sum for a player Heracles bought for just $586,000 a year earlier.
“There are some reasons why Metz paid such a huge amount of money,” Tanner said Wednesday. “It was a little bit astonishing to us that he didn’t play much in the beginning, but otherwise we wouldn’t have him here now — that’s for sure.”
Monteiro also knew of the Union’s interest last year, and said it was “always a good option for me.” He said the lack of playing time was frustrating, but the transfer fee didn’t put extra pressure on him.
“The training was good enough to keep me fit," Monteiro said. “Of course it’s mentally difficult, but football is like that. ... Nobody pressured me. I pressured myself. I just kept working.”
In addition to Monteiro’s skill, his size stands out — or his lack of it. He is listed at 5-foot-8 and 137 pounds. As a central midfielder in a league with MLS’s physicality, Monteiro is probably going to take his share of poundings. But Tanner isn’t worried.
“For me, it is more important that he has the ball-winning mentality and ability, instead of being 6 feet [tall]," Tanner said. "And he can also play with both feet, which is a big advantage, especially in terms of solving narrow situations.”
Monteiro met his new teammates Tuesday, and had his first training session with them Wednesday.
“The guys are very warm people,” he said. “I already feel at home. I’m already [in the] family.”
If all goes according to plan, Monteiro should make his Union debut in the March 23 home game vs. Columbus. That plan has some hurdles, though, as the Union have more foreign players on their roster (10 total) than MLS rules allow (eight). Tanner said the problem should be solved soon, as two Union players are expected to get green cards by the end of the month. He didn’t say who specifically.