Ex-Middlesbrough and West Ham defender joins MLS club

Ex-Middlesbrough captain and West Ham United loanee Emanuel Pogatetz has joined the Columbus Crew to replace departed World Cup star Giancarlo Gonzalez.

Emanuel Pogatetz has become the latest former Premier League stalwart to make the switch to MLS, with the Columbus Crew moving to add the Austrian defender for their post-season push.

Pogatetz, 31, has been searching for a new club since his contract with FC Nurnberg expired this summer, having made 23 Bundesliga appearances for the German outfit last season.

The Crew have been searching for a new centre-back since the $5 million of Costa Rican World Cup star Giancarlo Gonzalez to Palermo last month, and head coach Gregg Berhalter believes the ex-Middlesbrough and West Ham United man could prove even more influential to the lineup.

'We think [Pogatetz] is a great addition to the roster,’ he told mlssoccer.com. 'It’s a highly experienced defender, captain of his national team – over 60 caps for Austria – in the Bundesliga, Premier League, you name it. Tonnes of experience.

‘It’s a different profile than Giancarlo. With Giancarlo, you know you’re getting the potential for a sale because of his age, but [Pogatetz], I think, is more of a person who can affect the culture of the club with his experience, with his attitude and with his mentality.’

Nicknamed “Mad Dog” for his tenacious approach on the pitch, Pogatetz made 152 appearances for Middlesbrough after signing from Bayern Leverkusen for £1.5 million in 2005, captaining both the club and his country for the 2008-09 season, before injuries blighted the end of his spell on Teesside.

Moving on to Wolfsburg in 2010, and then to Hannover in 2012, the 61-times capped international would make brief return to the English top-flight for the second-half of the 2012-13 campaign, sealing a season-long loan move to West Ham, where he appeared in six games.

Understood to have signed with Columbus for the next three seasons, in a deal which will make him ‘the fifth highest-paid defender in MLS’, Pogatetz will no doubt add a great deal of bite to the side’s defence, having been booked 21 times during his first 77 games at Boro.

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