Aberdeen signing Dante Polvara is “an exciting, special talent” who can thrive in the Scottish Premiership, insists his former coach.
The Dons are understood to have beaten competition from Premiership rivals Hibs to land the American midfielder.
A host of MLS clubs, as well as outfits in Italy and Germany, were also interested in landing the 21-year-old.
Aberdeen won the race to secure Polvara on a two-and-a-half-year contract, subject to securing a visa.
Georgetown University coach Brian Wiese managed Polvara in recent seasons.
Wiese revealed how he and Dons legend Bobby Clark played a key role in the midfielder’s Pittodrie switch.
Wiese insists Aberdeen have signed a complete midfield package.
He says Polvara has it all – he’s two footed, can score, dribble, attack, defend, has vision, is strong in the air and can deliver defence-splitting through balls.
Weise said: “Dante is an exciting, special football talent.
“His trajectory has gone through the roof and he is going to get better and better.
“He is also a better athlete than anybody at this level.”
Midfielder ticks all the boxes
Having starred for Georgetown, Polvara won the 2021 Missouri Athletic Club’s (MAC) Hermann trophy on Friday.
Awarded to the best college player in the United States, it is the most prestigious individual honour an NCAA Division 1 player can achieve.
Wiese said: “Dante is two-footed, capable in the air and can dribble fast beyond players.
“He can break it down with a pass from range and can also deliver that final third pass.
“A central midfielder, Dante is a No.8 or No.6, moves really well and can also score from long range and inside the box.
“His real ability is do what is needed in games. His play is nuanced in different areas.
“At six-foot-four, Dante is an athletic specimen and is just getting better and better as a player.
“Dante just won the award for the best player in the college system on Friday, which is not surprising.
“At Aberdeen, Dante will get better just by being in the environment – he can’t help it.
“He is going to grow by being around seasoned players and pros.
“He will rise to that level.”
— Georgetown Men’s Soccer (@GUHoyasMSoccer) October 9, 2021
Clubs lining up to land Polvara
Aberdeen acquired Polvara’s rights from MLS outfit New York City FC, which owned the midfielder’s homegrown rights.
Polvara came through the acclaimed youth set-up at New York City.
The midfielder played in the same team as Joe Scally, 19 (Borussia Monchengladbach) and US international Gio Reyna, 19 (Borussia Dortmund).
While he has played for Georgetown University in recent seasons during his studies, the only mystery for Wiese is why New York City didn’t hold on to him going forward.
New York’s loss looks to be Aberdeen’s gain
Wiese said he was inundated with calls from MLS teams enquiring about Polvara.
He said: “I got a lot of phone calls from MLS teams, a tonne of calls from coaches and general managers there.
“Dante was property of NYCFC and the way MLS works is that they need to buy his rights or find a way to get them.
“A lot of teams really wanted him, but it was controlled by NYC.
“The one mystery was why NYC didn’t take him – even as a development player or as player stock.
“He came through a youth set-up where he was team mates with Gio Reyna and Joe Scally.
— NYCFC Youth (@NYCFCYouth) January 8, 2022
“He was with the best youth team in the country, where he won two national championships while captaining that team.
“They made a decision on him at 16 and, when he wasn’t at the level at that time, they moved past it, but they don’t recognise that players get better between 16 and 21.
“To their credit, they didn’t stand in his way.
“They didn’t bring him in as a player that they didn’t have a need for, which is what a lot of clubs do.”
European clubs also tracking Polvara
Clubs in Europe were also targeting Polvara, who started all 22 games for Georgetown last season, with seven goals and six assists.
In the recently-completed season, Polvara was named ‘Big East’ Midfielder of the Year and selected to the All-Big East first team for the second year in a row.
Wiese said: “I fielded a lot of phone calls from the MLS trying to get him.
“However, Dante had always said he wanted to go overseas because he thought that would be better for his development.
“He has an Italian passport and there were also some clubs over there.
“There was also one other club in Scotland who were trying to figure him out.
“He is an unknown quantity and it is hard for clubs outside of America to know what they are getting.
“As soon as I knew he wanted to go overseas, I wanted to make sure he would go somewhere where he would get in and play and develop that way.”
Aberdeen in talks with McGrath
Glass wants to sign St Mirren midfielder Jamie McGrath and the Dons have opened up talks with Republic of Ireland international.
McGrath’s St Mirren deal expires at the end of the season and the Dons are confident of securing him on a pre-contract.
If Aberdeen want to secure him in the January window, they will have to match the £350,000 cash offer Hibs made for the 25-year-old last summer.
That deal to move to Hibs broke down on transfer deadline day.
Aberdeen have opened up talks with Peterborough about midfielder Ryan Broom, who is currently on loan at Plymouth Argyle.
The deal to land McGrath this month could hinge on whether Ryan Hedges exits Pittodrie during the window.
A deal with Blackburn is understood to have been agreed verbally, but Hedges has yet to pen a pre-contract.
‘A kid who needs a higher level’
Meanwhile, Polvara is set to jet into Scotland this week. Majoring in finance, he will complete the final year of his university studies remotely while in the Granite City.
Wiese said: “Dante is one of the few kids in our country who is elite at both.
“He is a very smart kid, one of our better students that we have, which is high end education at Georgetown.
“When he gets to Aberdeen, it will be a jump in competition and training and that is what he needs.
“When you see him play, he is a talent and you can’t coach some of the things he can do.
“He is a kid who needs the higher level.
“He could come back and play for another year, but in some ways it would be unfair on him because it would be too easy for him.
“He really needs to be in a spot where he is no longer the best of the best and he needs to raise his levels to match others in Scotland.
“I think he is going to the best place for that in Aberdeen.”
No doubts over step up in Scotland
Wiese accepts moving from the United States college system to the Scottish top flight is a major step up in level.
However, he believes it is a jump Polvara not just needed, but will relish.
He said: “Dante is a very confident player and he has a real self-belief that he can be a pro and do things.
“Yes he is a talent. But he also has a humility and has time to grow.
“It is all about how he acclimatises to the level, because it will be a jump up.
“It will be quicker and physical, but he is the best talent I have worked with and seen in a long time.
“He has room to grow and get better.
“Talent-wise and physically, yes, but he also has to fit into the team.
“The manager has to like him and when he gets the opportunity he has to perform.
“When he has made the jumps so far there have been no problems, but this will be the biggest jump of his career.
“It would surprise me if he doesn’t make it work.”
Aberdeen legend Clark’s role in move
From 1996-2005, Wiese worked under Aberdeen goalkeeping legend Bobby Clark – first at Stanford University and then for five seasons at Notre Dame.
He revealed how Pittodrie great Clark, who won every domestic honour with the Dons, played a key role in the Polvara move.
Weise said: “I’m good friends with Bobby, and played for him and coached with him.
“I called Bobby and asked him if Aberdeen would have an interest in Dante. I knew he wasn’t going to stay with us.
“He was going to go pro somewhere and, if other clubs in Scotland and Europe are sniffing around, then would Aberdeen have an interest?
“I know they are good people and it is a group who understands that there are good kids coming out of America. And they will evolve him and give him a chance.
“Bobby and I are close and I wanted to see if Aberdeen had an interest and maybe they could get a look at him first.
“To Aberdeen’s credit, they saw it is a very, very good place.
“Bobby knows all about the university because his son, Jamie, is over here and he also keeps tabs on us.
“He knows Dante is a good player and he put us in touch with the chairman and Stephen (Glass). I just made the introduction at the end of the day.”