Olof Mellberg was most recently seen playing at Euro 2012 where he notched a goal against England. Now it seems he could be heading to Toronto FC.
Goal.com broke the news that the Sweden and former Aston Villa stalwart is in talks to sign with the MLS club. Mellberg is just the latest in a line of potential targets that could bolster the club's struggling defensive unit but this time the reports seem to have legs. Sources suggest that not only is Toronto in talks with the out of contract centre back but they are actually close to finalizing the deal and it could be made official as soon as early next week.
The move to bring in a player like Mellberg was made possible by the fact that Toronto has cleared up a fair bit of cap space in the past week with Julian de Guzman, Nick Soolsma, and Joao Plata all off the books now. There could be more moves in store but with the vacant designated player slot the club can certainly afford to pay the kind of money that a proven veteran of Mellberg's quality would command.
Mellberg has made 117 appearances for Sweden which ranks him third all time for the nation. He has been involved in both the European Championship and the World Cup with Sweden as well as appearing in Europe's top club competitions. During his time at Aston Villa, Juventus, and Olympiacos he not only established himself as one of the best central defenders in in the game but also proved to be a fan favourite wherever he played.
Now at 34 years old Mellberg reportedly turned down a deal that would have kept him in Greece in hopes of pursuing other options. He is still capable of providing consistent performances in defense and would certainly set a good example for a very young defensive group in Toronto. He also brings a knack for knocking in the odd goal or two having consistently displayed the ability to get up and finish on set pieces.
The biggest knock on signing a player like Mellberg is going to be the fact that at 34 years old he has logged a lot of mileage and could start to slow down soon. He would almost certainly command a DP contract which would take Toronto out of the running for some of the other targets they have been linked with without having quite the name recognition of a player like Alessandro Nesta.
The positives are equally obvious though as he would be a massive upgrade to the leagues second most porous defense and would provide a great mentor to guys like Logan Emory, Doneil Henry, and Aaron Maund. Plus, he has a great beard!