As the January transfer window draws to a close, Toronto FC had at least one more ace up its sleeve as the club signed Polish international defender Damien Perquis. The former Real Betis defender had been linked to the club for most of the month, but proceedings really took a step forward when he terminated his contract with the Spanish club. He will now join Toronto on a free transfer, just the latest bit of smart business from the club.
Perquis, who played for Poland at Euro 2012, may not stand out in the press like Jozy Altidore or Sebastian Giovinco, but make no mistake this move is crucial. One of the most important things Toronto needed to do this offseason was sign an experienced central defender to play alongside Steven Caldwell. Perquis fits the bill exceptionally.
The move was all but confirmed last night when a classic MLSE negotiating tactic was seen in full force: Perquis in the front row at a Toronto Raptors game. It seemed Greg Vanney had a lot to do with this move, as Toronto's coach played against Perquis in France. He was also very vocal about what he thought the defender would add to his side.
In a press release Bezbatchenko underlined how important Perquis' ability to play the ball from the back will be to the team. Mateo Gonzalez, journalist for ABC in Spain, tells Waking The Red that Perquis also possesses immense leadership abilities. He also outlines his strong personality and the fact that he was an incredibly competitive player. All of these things will certainly help a Toronto backline lacking all of the above.
The major drawback to Perquis, however, has been his health. According to Gonzalez, the fact that he hasn't gone a single season at Betis without an injury really hurt his play. It also hurt the fans' perception of him. Alongside Caldwell, who hasn't exactly been the most healthy player in the past, this situation is a tad bit precarious. Before this is all said and done it would be good for Toronto to add at least one other defender.
Nick Hagglund has certainly shown that he is capable of playing major centre back minutes at this level, but after that things get rather thin. Other than super utility man Warren Creavalle, Toronto really doesn't have any other centre back options on the team. The team seemed interested in addressing this through the draft. However, there are very few players drafted this year who will be capable of first team minutes. Between Skylar Thomas and Clement Simonin Toronto doesn't appear to have one of those players. Then again, nobody thought Hagglund was as ready for MLS as he was last year. Although on a good team, he shouldn't have needed to be.
Today Toronto's back end became substantially more stable. However it could use at least one more support to prevent the risk of collapse.