One year ago today (January 13th) that Toronto FC gathered media and fans are Real Sports Bar to celebrate the capture of a pair of players that were supposed to usher in a glorious new era for the club. The centrepiece of that "Bloody Big Deal" was Jermain Defoe who the club had signed from Tottenham Hotspur having agreed to a lucrative contract with the former England international. Alongside Defoe was American midfielder Michael Bradley who the team had managed to swoop in and sign from AS Roma with much less wooing involved than it took to bring Defoe to Toronto.
A year later and Michael Bradley is currently in Toronto working to get fully fit and ready for his second season at the club. The other big ticket signing is instead back in England and training with the Tottenham Hotspurs and working on his rehab anywhere but with Toronto FC.
For fans getting sick of the drawn out sage revolving around Defoe in recent months the good news is that it may soon be over. While the Sun may not be the most reliable source they are reporting that a deal for Defoe is done and he will join the Black Cats on a very lucrative deal.
According to the report that will run in the Sun Wednesday morning, Defoe will be paid £80,000 a week over the course of the next 3 1/2 years bringing the total contract up to the £14 million range. It would certainly be a lucrative deal for the player who was making just north of $6 million a year in MLS according to the figures released by the Player's Union.
While Defoe seems set for Sunderland the fate of the player potentially coming the other way, Jozy Altidore, remains very much up in the air. It is quite clear at this point that Toronto FC at least have a serious interest in the American forward but they are not the only club in the mix and the financial elements of the deal appear to be a stumbling point.
There are reports that Altidore could come to Toronto as part of a swap for Defoe but the sticking point appears to be the amount of cash that would be heading across the pond along with the players. While Toronto are looking for Altidore plus funds in exchange for Defoe some are suggesting that Sunderland are looking for Toronto to be the ones including money in the deal to help offset the costs of the large contract they would have to sign Defoe to.
TSN though are reporting that the deal is in fact done and Toronto FC will be getting both Altidore and a significant transfer fee in exchange for Defoe. The club has yet to confirm anything but if these reports are true it should not be much longer before this part of the saga is resolved.
All of the money seems to be turning TFC fans off any deal for Altidore. With Mix Diskerud signing for New York City FC on a deal that seems to be below the DP level it will only further the idea that the club should not be overpaying for a player like Altidore as many place his value closer to that of Diskerud than that of Bradley or Clint Dempsey which is where Altidore's people seem to have placed it.
Altidore is not the only potential replacement for Defoe that the club have been linked to in recent weeks. The most common name appearing in the European press is Giovinco who continues to be linked to a number of clubs with Toronto FC consistently appearing in the mix.
Giovinco, an attacking midfielder/forward from Juventus, would be a great fit for a TFC team that is in need of a creative #10 to get the ball to whomever their forwards are going to be next season. The fact that he is also only 27-years-old is certainly a bonus and would make him a great fit.
Toronto have reportedly offered the attacker a deal with 3.5 million dollars per season (yes, that is less than Altidore seems to want) over the course of a two and a half year contract. With Juventus looking to move players out before making any signings a deal could be completed for Giovinco before the end of the window. With the player's contract set to expire at the end of the season the Italian club will want to cash on him this window to avoid losing him for nothing in the summer as he appears very unlikely to agree a new deal having seen his minutes diminished at the club this season.
The question will be whether or not Toronto can beat out offers from the likes of Bologna, Fiorentina, Torino, and maybe even Arsenal. It certainly won't be easy but for now at least TFC seem to be very much in the mix for the player even if it could be a deal that might not see him arrive until the summer.
With TFC reportedly working on deals for a pair of designated players it certainly raises questions about the future of Gilberto at the club. Barring any changes to the league rules in the new CBA the club would once again be faced with having four designated players and having to move one of them out to remain roster compliant.
While there have been almost no reports linking Gilberto to a move away from the club it is possible that the team could move him if they feel they have the right replacement lined up. A double swoop for Altidore and Giovinco could be just that.
With his future possibly up in the air Gilberto is busy working to get ready for the new season. While Bradley trains in Toronto the Brazilian forward is training with Santa Cruz Futebol Clube, the club where he began his professional club and one day hopes to return to. In recent articles about his training stint at the club the forward has commented that he is at the club getting ready for the new season and training there since it is near his home. Gilberto also comments that he wants to eventually play in Europe before returning home to Brazil.
While there are certainly a lot of questions surrounding the future of Toronto FC's designated player situation it is clear that the trio that was in place on January 13th, 2014 will not be the group that the team starts the new season with.