FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution’s 2018 roster continues to take shape as the Revs have completed their third signing in a little more than a week, announcing the addition of 24-year-old midfielder Wilfried Zahibo on Thursday afternoon.
Zahibo arrives from La Liga 2 in Spain, having spent the past two-and-a-half years with Gimnàstic de Tarragona. A native of Marseille, France, Zahibo also has experience in La Liga, having suited up for Valencia in Spain’s top flight.
General Manager Michael Burns described Zahibo as “a true defensive midfielder,” noting the 6-foot-2 holding player’s size and ability in the air.
“We feel like he brings a presence (to the midfield),” Burns said. “He can win balls, he can start the attack for us. He’s a signing that we believe is going to have an impact for us right down the spine of the field.”
Zahibo will join the Revs upon receipt of his International Transfer Certificate and P-1 Visa, and Burns said that process should be completed in time to have Zahibo with the Revolution “if not from day one of preseason, certainly as close to (the start of) preseason as possible.”
That will give Zahibo – and the Revolution’s other recent international addition, Swedish left back Gabriel Somi – the maximum amount of preseason time to settle into a new team, a new culture, and with the new coaching staff led by Brad Friedel.
While Somi speaks fluent English, Zahibo’s grasp of the language isn’t quite as strong, but he’ll no doubt benefit from sharing a common language with Friedel (French) and assistant coaches Marcelo Neveleff and Ruben Garcia (Spanish), as well as multiple teammates.
Burns joked that Zahibo struggled most with understanding the GM’s Boston accent.
“If that’s his biggest problem, we’ll be fine,” Burns quipped.
The signing of Zahibo follows a recent trend, as the 24-year-old joins Somi (26 years old) and Homegrown Player Isaac Angking (17 years old) as New England’s offseason additions thus far. That all three players are either at the beginning of or in the prime of their careers is no accident.
“Brad and I and the entire staff have talked quite a bit about the age of players that we want to try to acquire,” said Burns. “There’s certainly been an emphasis put on that on our end.”