Arriverderci AC Milan. Hello Toronto FC? Now that would be moving on up.
Paul Mariner's been openly talking about the need for an upgrade at Centre Back, which I think we can all agree is necessary. Alessandro Nesta, Centre back, AC Milan star and former Italy international was spotted at Stade Saputo hanging out with Bernardo Corradi and Matteo Ferrari to watch the Toronto FC game so the obvious connection was lazily and jokingly made.
Well, as reported over at Canadian Soccer News, it seems like it's actually likely to happen, with various contacts suggesting it's a done deal just waiting for the international clearance to go through. Salary cap room will also have to be made (Adios Miguel), whether legitimately and transparently, or in that vague MLS way that we all have to somehow trust is above board, but probably involves all sorts of generous exceptions. Duane Rollins article suggests that he won't be a DP this year, which most people assumed would be the major sticking point, but will have a deal that involves a pay raise to DP level next year.
It's still unconfirmed for now, but it seems a lot closer to fruition than other rumours that have been floated. Given the window's open, and TFC have been terrible and clearly in need of help, and have a new manager presumably eager to bring new players in, there's been surprisingly little rumours flying around out there which is probably a good thing. Assuming it's going to happen though, is it a good thing? I'll hesitantly say yes.
He was obviously a very very good player, and was still in AC Milan's first team this past season which suggests he's still good enough to do well over here, he's not one of those 'was really good a few years back, but hasn't done anything recently' types. Toronto FC have always been in need of a commanding Centre Back, to not only do a job himself, but raise the organisation level of the whole defence and cut down on the chaos that has reigned in every team other than Preki's defence first lineup. That's clearly still the case, so it seems like a natural fit.
All the usual caveats apply though. Is he just another aging star looking for one last retirement contract, who'll be caught out by the competitiveness and quality of MLS being better than expected? A couple of recent examples help quell those fears, Torsten Frings has clearly shown that as long as the right attitude is there, class is permanent, and Matteo Ferrari, a similar defender, though at a much lower skill level than Nesta, has adapted very nicely at Montreal.
He's had injuries in the last few years and isn't getting younger, will he be able to handle the excessive travel and physicality of the league without breaking down? Well, this is my main concern really and one where Frings isn't such a shining example of the joys of building around a player in his mid 30's.
Overall, I'd cross my fingers and put such concerns aside, if only because he's exactly the type of player TFC need. If it works, once he's fully up to speed, his addition would greatly help in so many ways both short and long term. If it doesn't, well, it's not like we've got that much to lose this season anyway is it?. It's very much a gamble, but one that's well worth taking, lets hope it happens.