Toronto FC have signed former Barcelona and Club Brugge attacking midfielder Victor Vazquez using targeted allocation money.
Vazquez, at age 30 and coming to Toronto for a salary above the league maximum, constitutes the major signing the club has been seeking all winter to add more creativity and goals to the team from midfield. He was the Belgian Footballer of the Year for the 2014-15 season, his last in Bruges, before joining Cruz Azul in Liga MX.
It did not work out for him in Mexico, with Vazquez not enjoying his off-field life in Mexico City compared to Belgium and also complaining that the league’s style of play was too slow to be suited to him. He has not played a competitive game since October 1 and was last in Cruz Azul’s squad, as an unused substitute, in November.
Before joining Club Brugge, Vazquez came through Barcelona’s famous La Masia youth academy. He made the step up to Barca B for the 2006-07 campaign and went on to spend five seasons with the reserve side, but though he was called up by Pep Guardiola on a couple of occasions he only made a handful of appearances for the first team during that time.
“We are excited to bring Victor Vazquez to Toronto FC and provide our team with another experienced midfielder,” Toronto FC general manager Tim Bezbatchenko said in the club’s press release.
“Victor developed in the Barcelona youth system which is recognized worldwide. He is a creative player with experience playing in an attacking midfield role but also centrally which gives us flexibility in our system. He will be a welcomed addition to our club.”
Though Vazquez comes with a strong reputation as a creator, he probably should not be counted on to drastically increase the number of goals coming from Toronto’s midfield. Though he may be expected to have more success in front of goal in MLS, he generally scored four or five per 30 games with Club Brugge. Vazquez notched 11 in 37 in his final season there, but three came in the qualifying rounds of the Europa League before the competition proper.
As Bezbatchenko alluded to, Vazquez should be comfortable in midfield in Toronto’s 3-5-2 system - Club Brugge often played a 4-3-3 with the same midfield configuration - but is also capable of operating higher up the pitch, giving them the flexibility to adjust their shape when needed.