As has been rumoured for a couple weeks, Toronto FC have signed attacking midfielder Ager Aketxe from La Liga side Athletic Bilbao. The Reds have made the young Spaniard their fourth new signing of 2018, following Gregory van der Wiel, Auro, and Caleb Patterson-Sewell.
The Reds announced the new signing on Friday morning at the BMO Training Ground, in a press conference with GM Tim Bezbatchenko and head coach Greg Vanney.
According to WhoScored, Aketxe has appeared nine times for Bilbao this season, featuring in six Europa League games and three La Liga fixtures. He’s only started once, in a 3-2 win over Hertha Berlin back in November. The Spanish club announced last week they were terminating Aketxe’s contract to allow him to move to MLS.
Aketxe has represented Spain internationally, at the U-20 level.
With this signing, TFC have a piece that fits pretty easily into their preferred lineups. In the 3-5-2, Aketxe could go straight into the spot occupied by Marky Delgado or Jonathan Osorio last year. He’d probably go better into a flat 4-4-2 than a diamond though, since a lot of his game seems to involve passing through the middle of the park.
By the looks of it, Aketxe is able to challenge for a goal from distance, which is something the Reds have been missing a bit. Crucially, he’s also left-footed. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him taking a couple corners from that side.
Toronto have continued their trend of buying down-on-their-luck players from Europe whose careers could use a boost. So many key pieces of the TFC lineup come from situations like that — Victor Vazquez being the prime example, but all of Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley found new life when they moved to MLS.
The Reds are next in action next Tuesday when they play Leg 2 of the CONCACAF Champions League tie with the Colorado Rapids. It’s hard to say whether Aketxe would be available immediately for that, but it seems a little unlikely.
Here’s another highlight package of Aketxe in action I found. What do you think of him?