Vancouver Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson expects Bernie Ibini to offer something different up front. Fans will just have to wait a little while to see the club's newest signing in action.
The Whitecaps announced Tuesday they have acquired the 24-year-old winger/forward from Club Brugge KV of Belgium's top division.
"Young, athletic," Robinson said of Ibini after practice. "He's got a huge upside."
Ibini has spent most of his career in Australia, having just wrapped up a second straight loan spell at A-League side Sydney FC where he helped the club win both the regular-season and playoff titles.
He played in Sydney's recent semifinal victory, but missed Sunday's title match with a hamstring injury that could have him on the shelf for a little while once he arrives in Vancouver and is checked out by the Whitecaps' medical staff.
Robinson, who had Ibini on his radar for six months but has never seen him play in person, said the injury isn't thought to be serious.
"An exciting young player whose got power, strength, is direct," said Robinson. "He'll fit into the group very well."
The deal for the Australian international was agreed to prior to the close of Major League Soccer's primary transfer window on Monday. Ibini's contract with the Whitecaps runs through 2018, with a club option for the 2019 season.
Vancouver had US$300,000 in allocation money left over from the trade that sent Kekuta Manneh to the Columbus Crew for Tony Tchani, which no doubt helped make the transfer possible.
The six-foot-two, 195-pound Nigerian-born Ibini (pronounced ee-BEE'-nee) was property of Brugge, but never played a game for the club after breaking his leg in pre-season in 2015.
While Ibini can line up wide on either flank, Robinson said he expects him to suit up predominantly as a striker, either alongside Fredy Montero or when the smaller Colombian designated player needs a rest.
"He can fit multiple positions, but he's different to what we've got," said the coach. "That's why we're excited to see him."
Similar to Cristian Techera and Nicolas Mezquida, Ibini fits into the Whitecaps' model of acquiring promising players who will hopefully flourish in time rather than going after established, and costly, veterans.
Ibini, who scored 31 goals and added 11 assists in 142 matches in A-League with Central Coast Mariners FC and Sydney, has two senior caps for Australia.
He will occupy an international roster spot and is set to officially join the Vancouver setup pending receipt of his Canadian work permit and medical exam.
"He fits into what we're trying to do here," said Robinson, whose team visits the Houston Dynamo on Friday. "We're delighted."
Follow @JClipperton_CP on Twitter