When training camp opened on Friday there were a handful of Toronto FC players missing at the KIA training ground, most of which were expected. Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore are with the US men's national team for their annual January camp. They will face Will Johnson and his Canadian team on February 5 in Los Angeles.
However, one absence was notable, that of striker Luke Moore. Moore's name was certainly thrown around a little bit this offseason as reports out of England linked him to several English clubs. As the transfer season wore on, however, the news dissipated and it seemed like Moore would be back with Toronto for 2016.
That isn't necessarily the case , however, as Greg Vanney told media today that it is unclear whether the English striker will be back with the club this season. He is currently in England where he continues to train with Premier League bottom-dwellers Aston Villa.
In late December Moore was linked to several clubs in the top two divisions of England by multiple reports. The clubs reportedly interested included Swansea, Bournemouth, Reading, Sheffield Wednesday, Nottingham Forest and Leeds United. Aston Villa, where he currently trains, has reportedly never expressed interest.
The 29-year-old Moore is still under contract with Toronto FC, meaning a move to England, or elsewhere, would have to be completed within the next few days. The winter transfer window closes on February 1 at 11 p.m., at which time Toronto will already have started their preseason friendly schedule in Los Angeles.
Whether it is Moore or another player, the club likely needs to make a move before that time as they are not currently under the league's salary cap. Tim Bezbatchenko, Toronto's general manager, has until March 2 to fix this issue, but will likely want to get something done before the transfer window is over.
Moore is currently making $235,500 in guaranteed compensation. Along with Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore's designated player contracts, and Herculez Gomez making $261,000 in guaranteed compensation, Toronto have an incredibly expensive attacking force.
That isn't to say the Englishman doesn't represent a useful player for Toronto FC, as he was consistently a strong option off the bench for the club. He only had 7 goals and 7 assists in 42 matches with Toronto but was reliable both as a starter and a substitute.
His departure would make Toronto fairly thin up front, especially if Jozy Altidore makes the American roster for the Copa America Centenario and Sebastian Giovinco does the same for Italy at Euro 2016. This would likely mean the club relying heavily on Herculez Gomez, while hoping that prospect Jordan Hamilton is ready for a bigger role.
Either way, the club's salary cap situation means that even if TFC aren't looking to bring any more players in, at least one player is on their way out. It certainly promises to add a last bit of intrigue in what has already been an entertaining Toronto FC offseason.