Toronto FC is on the verge of adding a player who once played for Manchester United, Villarreal, Atletico Madrid, Inter MIlan, and Internacional along with making over 100 appearances for the Uruguayan National Team. That impressive resume belongs to Diego Forlan who is reported set to sign for Toronto FC as soon as the summer window opens on July 9th.
The potential transfer has been rumoured for a while now first as wild speculation based on the fact that Forlan commented that he would be open to moving to MLS down the road. That then evolved into something more concrete with Toronto FC being added to the reports by name this time. Now the Globe and Mail's Paul Attfield has taken it one step further by reporting Forlan will be the clubs newest Designated Player at some point this week and could be available for selection on the weekend against Sporting Kansas City.
Uruguay forward Diego Forlan, who played with Beckham at Manchester United for two seasons in the early part of the century, will be unveiled as Toronto FC’s newest designated player this week. It could happen as early as Monday or Tuesday, when the MLS international transfer window opens, and would make him available for selection for Saturday’s contest at Sporting Kansas City.
As the winner of the Golden Ball – the best player in the last World Cup in South Africa, in large part thanks to his tournament-leading five goals as he led Uruguay to its best showing at soccer’s showcase event in 40 years – Forlan will bring a global appeal largely missing from the current TFC squad. He will also command a salary to match, with a multiyear, multimillion-dollar deal likely in the Thierry Henry range (around $4-million U.S.).
The move will come as a surprise to many as the 34-year-old Forlan is only one year into the three year deal that he signed when moving to Brazil. He scored 19 goals in his first 37 appearances for the club and seemed set to be successful in Brazil and wind down his career close to home in South America.
Every window in recent years though there has been a fair bit of speculation about clubs coming in to secure his services. Internacional have fended off the potential suitors but now seem set to cash in on the experienced forward by selling him to Toronto FC.
With Forlan still under contract Toronto will likely have to break the bank to make this signing. First, the deal will likely involve a large transfer fee and second, the players salary will almost certainly be among the highest in the league along the likes of Henry and Robbie Keane.
There is no questioning the fact that Forlan remains a quality player and has proven over his career that he can score goal no matter where he goes (yes, his time at Manchester was not great). He should be able to come in and score goals for Toronto and provide quality service for those around him which will be a major boost but the question is how will the move fit into the long-term picture of things.
The move for Forlan has Tim Leiweke's finger prints all over it and fits with the stated fact that he was looking to land a Beckham level signing for his new club. When he signed David Beckham with the L.A. Galaxy he got a star who many thought was on the downslope of his career as he was 32 at the time but Beckham proved that when he was in the mood he could be a top player in MLS. That move ended up working quite well both on and off the field and should serve to provide a reason for optimism that Forlan could have the same impact on the league. The main difference though was that the Galaxy were already a competitive team when Beckham joined them which is not the case for TFC.
Toronto are sitting 13 points back of the playoff position and second to last in the east so it would take something special to turn this season around. Forlan alone may not be enough to put the squad on enough of a role to make up that group but if they could find a way to reel off a few wins in a row it would at least make things interesting which is not currently the case.
Should this report prove to be true it will be interesting to see how Ryan Nelsen uses Forlan in his team. He has played at forward and just behind the forwards during his career and done well in both roles. The more withdrawn role probably makes more sense for Toronto as the club is desperately in need of someone to link up with Jeremy Hall and Matias Laba to create chances. With Robert Earnshaw, Jeremy Brockie, Justin Braun, and Danny Koevermans all capable of playing in just in front of him Nelsen would have options to work with.
SIlly season officially begins on the 9th so buckle up and enjoy the ride. If Toronto really do sign Forlan it would undoubtedly be the biggest signing in the club's history (no offense to Torsten Frings) and should kick off an interesting summer around the club.