He may have got the timeline of events wrong on the deal but the Globe and Mail's Paul Attfield stands by his report that Toronto FC are set to sign Uruguayan international Diego Forlan. His initial report suggested that the move would be completed on Monday or Tuesday but in spite of the delay he claimed on Thursday morning that it was still a matter of when and not if Forlan joins the club.
Attfield was on TSN Radio this morning talking to Gareth Wheeler and had the following to say about his report (can find the full interview here):
"As far as I know it is still happening. I know there has been a lot of playing it down by the team. As far as I know Tim Leiweke has reached out and at this point it is just about money.
Diego would be the first domino in a two or three chain effect. Diego would be a huge name but he is by no means the only star they are looking to bring in.
I am very much convinced that it is going to happen, it was supposed to happen this week as far as I was led to believe. I genuinly wouldn't believe anything Diego says or his agent says."
He seemed very confident in his report but the problem is that the financial part of every deal is the toughest to work out. The good news is that MLSE has no lack of money and can afford to pay what Forlan and Internacional might be asking for if they really want to get the player. If you believe that then it makes sense to say that it is a matter of when the deal is completed.
While Attfield seems confident that the deal will get done things go on as normal in Brazil where Forlan played 81 minutes for his club last night in the Copa Do Brazil. Internacional claimed a 3-1 win over América Mineiro and Forlan got his name on the scoresheet with what really seemed like an own goal to me as his volley seemed to be heading closer to the corner flag than the corner of the goal before hitting off the defender and finding the back of the net.
There is nothing new for a player to keep featuring in a prominent role for their club up until the time of the sale so reading too much into Forlan starting for Internacional would be foolish. Just like everyone involved in the side denying things it is part of continuing with the status quo until everything is done. For Internacional starting Forlan in their matches only helps them get the best value for the player both now and down the road so it makes sense.
While Forlan is playing in Brazil, Toronto FC remain quiet about the potential to sign him but Ryan Nelsen did spend time talking up the fact that the team needs balance before adding a player of that calibre. He offered some good insight in this Canadian Press piece.
"Can our team handle a player of that calibre?" he asked Wednesday. "Because one player is not going to come in and all of a sudden you're going to win the league. It doesn't happen like that.
"We have to get the squad right, the squad balanced right, the balance of the salary cap right. Competition between players. We've got to get everything sorted out. The foundation of the club's got to be right and that's been the problem with this club so many years.
"They never had it right. They've never had the salary cap right. They've never had the depth right. And we've got to go through some growing pains before we get there. Once we get that right, once we get a nice balanced squad where the salary cap's balanced as well. You've got young players with experienced players. Then players of that calibre, you don't mind spending that money because there's a foundation."
That sounds just like what many fans have been calling for over recent years after it became clear that bringing in designated players and then trying to piece together a roster around them was not the way to go in MLS. The teams that have found success have done it by building a quality roster foundation and then adding the big name DP to put them over the top and turn them into a championship contender.
The question is could Toronto have that balance right with the 3 additions that the club seems to be looking to make? There is only so much the club can do at this stage to fix the issues with the salary cap as they are stuck with a number of large contracts that would be very difficult to move. With the club overpaying for the likes of Richard Eckersley, Darren O'Dea, and Danny Califf they only have so much space to work with to build that solid foundation.
If the Forlan reports are true it would seem to be a direct contradiction on what Nelsen was saying in that article. He was talking sense but if he thinks that solid foundation can be created with a couple of signings this window then he is quite far off.
The other interesting note from all of the talk of late is that folks around Toronto continue to claim that the club has space to bring in a young Designated Player as well as a regular DP despite already having Danny Koevermans and Matias Laba on the books. For those who struggle with math that would give them four DPs which is one more than the total allowed according to what is published in the MLS rules. There is no word from the club on how this would work other than to say that there are things in the rules that would allow them to do so.
At this point no one has offered any explanation as to how Toronto would be able to add a 3rd and 4th designated player to the roster. There is nothing in the published rules and the league or club have no offered an explanation. It will be interesting to see if such an explanation ever comes out as right now it is quite confusing how TFC could wind up with more than the 3 allowed DPs. It also raises the question of how they can afford it since they continue to state that they have little room to work under the salary cap.
Toronto seems set to make 3 or 4 moves this window and two of them could be quite large so there should be lots to follow along with as the month progresses. It could get quite interesting if the club does deliver on all of their big talk but that is something we have yet to see them do.