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Toronto FC eying defensive reinforcements?

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Toronto FC could be in the market for defensive help in the coming weeks with a couple of names being linked to the club recently including a potential return for Darren O'Dea or a move for Parma defender Faniano Santacroce

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Toronto FC could be looking to make a move to bolster their defensive options with several names being linked to the club in recent days.  The club may need to make a move to clear up some cap space before completing any signings but that has never stopped the rumour mill from churning.

The club could be considering a move to bring back a familiar face as Darren O'Dea is now out of contract after a short spell with Blackpool.  A report in the Toronto Sun suggests that the club are keeping tabs on the defender and could possibly make him an offer if Steven Caldwell is not able to make a return to the field.  O'Dea seems like he would be open to making a return to TFC if the right offer came his way but it remains to be seen if the club are going to do anything more than keep tabs on him.

Given the fact that O'Dea left the club last time around due to his salary being so large that it was handcuffing another attempt to rebuild the roster, it iis quite unlikely that TFC would be able to offer him the same kind of money to try and tempt him back to the club so any return would have to involve the Irishman taking a fairly decent pay cut.

While O'Dea coming back to TFC is nothing more than a nice idea at this point in time the club could be further along in the process with another defender.  In recent days a number of different reports have surfaced suggesting that the club are close to completing a deal for Fabiano Santacroce.

Santacroce is a 28-year-old defender who was born in Brazil but came up through the Italian system including featuring for Italy at the U-21 level.  His most recent club was Parma but with that club entering in to bankruptcy and needing a new owner they are parting ways with a lot of assets.

The defender was once a very highly rated talent but his stock has fallen in recent years as he has struggled to break in to the first team at Parma.  His value was so high in his early 20's that Napoli payed €5.5 million to acquire him from Brescia.  During his time with Napoli it looked like he might develop in to one of the top defenders in Serie A but it never really happened and he was eventually moved to Parma as part of a player swap deal in 2011.

Santacroce spent his first years with Parma struggling to get in the squad which lead to him spending the 2013-14 season out on loan with Padova where he was able to lock down a starting spot.  A good year in Serie B set him up for a return to Serie A this past season where he had his best year with Parma despite the issues that the club faced.

The Corriere Canadese seems to be the original source on the link between the central defender and TFC with the connecting thread once again being Sebastian Giovinco's agent.  Andrea D'Amico could bring another one of his clients to Toronto if the right offer comes along.

There are two potential snags in the plan for the team to sign a player like Santacroce.  The first is that the roster is quite full and the team is very tight against the salary cap.  By loaning Bright Dike to San Antonio they opened up a roster spot to potentially make an addition but a player of Santacroce's calibre would almost certainly not come cheap enough for the team to afford him without some kind of subtraction.

TFC could open up a substantial amount of cap space by offloading Caldwell but that would require the former captain to retire.  Even if that does happen it is not clear if it would open up the cap space that was being occupied by the CB.  The latest published version of the MLS roster rules does not mention what impact a player retiring would have on the salary cap but it does not that a player bought-out during the season would continue to count against the cap.

If Toronto can clear up the space to bring in Santacroce it is still unclear if they would be able to do it in the next few weeks or if they would have to wait until the summer transfer window opens for MLS.  The winter window is not closed which means that MLS clubs can only sign players who are available on a free transfer.  The issue is that it is unclear just what the status of Parma players is these days given the fact that the club is still in search of a new owner.  It is possible that a player who is owed money by the club (they probably all are) could void their contract and move on a free transfer but like the MLS rules a lot of this remains shrouded in a bit of mystery.

It seems clear that TFC are in the market for a new defender and given Tim Bezbatchenko's recent trip to Italy it would not surprise anyone to see the club bringing in defensive help from that country.  It may not wind up being Santacroce but he is certainly one interesting option even if he has never really managed to live up to the potential he showed early in his career.  If he could stay healthy with TFC he could prove to be a solid addition to a defensive unit that is in need of some help.