The Montreal Impact have just announced a major new signing with the acquisition of central midfielder Patrice Bernier from Danish outfit Lyngby Boldklub. Bernier, 32, appeared in 73 matches with the Impact's previous incarnation from 2000-2002 before heading off to Norway to ply his trade in Europe's second and third-tier leagues. Of course, that's not what head coach Jesse Marsch has to say:
We have been in talks with Patrice for quite some time and we are extremely pleased that he will be joining the Impact for the 2012 season. His years of experience in top leagues in Europe will provide the team with savvy and intelligence. As a player, he is very sharp on the ball and his tactical awareness will be a great value in the midfield. As a person, he is a good man and a strong leader. Patrice is very excited and ready for the challenge of helping our club reach the next level.
Those top leagues? Norway, the Bundesliga.2 (where he lasted a year) and then the Danish Superliga. The closest Bernier's ever gotten to the big time is when he rejected a move to Turkey, and even then... well, that's not a top European league. The Impact's press release is riddled with fanciful language. Check out what they have to say about Bernier's stint as Kaiserslautern (and we're not even going to talk about their gushing praise over his two appearances in UEFA Cup qualifying against 'legendary' Olympiacos):
Bernier then joined FC Kaiserslautern, then in the 2.Bundesliga, Germany’s second division, on May 28, 2007, scoring one goal in 15 games. He went on to play in two national DFB-Pokal championship games with the club.
Bernier, in fact, played in the first and second round of the DFB-Pokal with Kaiserslautern, losing the second match 2-1 against a Regionalliga Nord (III) team. Portraying that and their previous match against another third division side as 'national championship' games is a wee bit of a stretch, and it smells like the Impact are grossly exaggerating Bernier's career for the sake of PR.
The silly thing is that they don't need to. Bernier is a good enough player to help significantly in MLS and has 46 caps for his country. He'll be a good player for the Impact for at least a couple more seasons before he hangs up his boots, and with his status as one of Quebec's favourite sons, there's no reason whatsoever to need to justify his signing with nonsense about his European career.
It's unclear what the terms of the contract are. Bernier's not a designated player, and there's talk that he has an opt-out clause with Lyngby that means he can join up with his new team immediately and without a transfer fee. As long as the Impact aren't paying huge money for him, he sounds like a pretty excellent acquisition.