Werder Bremen's Aron Johannsson: 'I need to play to be happy'
U.S. international Aron Johannsson has said he's in the "most difficult period" of his career after dropping down the pecking order at Werder Bremen, and is considering leaving the Bundesliga side "to be happy" again.
Johannsson, 26, has endured a frustrating spell at Bremen ever since his transfer from AZ Alkmaar in 2015, with a hip injury ruling him out for the remainder of last season after playing in six matches until late September that year.
This term, despite returning to full fitness, the forward has made only eight appearances for the club and in 2017 has featured only twice, not playing a minute in the last four matches.
Earlier this week, a source close to the player told ESPN FC that Johannsson could look at "different options" in the summer if his situation at Bremen does not improve, and speaking to reporters on Wednesday he addressed his situation in public for the first time.
"It's not my desire to leave, but at the end of the day it's important that I play," Johannsson said. "I love football, but I need to play to be happy."
However, with Johannsson dropping behind Max Kruse, Serge Gnabry, Fin Bartels and Claudio Pizarro in the pecking order, the chances of him winning significant minutes for Bremen in the last 10 matches of the ongoing campaign remain slim.
"It's the most difficult period of my career: I can play, but I am not allowed to," he said, adding that he was not surprised that he was not called up by new U.S. head coach Bruce Arena for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers. "It's disappointing, but not surprising when you've not played a minute in four weeks."
Johannsson is under contract at Werder Bremen until 2019. He has made a total of 14 Bundesliga appearances for the club since his move from AZ Alkmaar, and scored three goals.
Stephan Uersfeld is the Germany correspondent for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @uersfeld.