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Toronto FC decline Piatti’s 2021 contract option; look to bring in new designated player

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The club announced a flurry of roster moves today to conclude the 2020 MLS season.

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Toronto FC Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

TORONTO, Canada—Toronto FC announced its year-end roster moves today to conclude the 2020 season.

After being eliminated in the first round of the MLS Cup Playoffs, The Reds had up until 1 p.m. EST today (Monday) to accept club-options and tender bona fide contract offers to their upcoming 2021 free agents—and several key decisions had to be made.

Most notably, of course, was the decision surrounding Pablo Piatti, the club’s 2020 designated player signing, and whether or not the Reds should exercise their club option on the Argentine winger’s deal.

What we learned Monday is that the Reds will not be picking up the option on Piatti’s deal, making him eligible for the MLS re-entry draft, however the club did note that they would be interested in bringing him back next season.

“We’ll be able to return a core part of the group, including some young, exciting, and hungry homegrown players, but also, we’ll look to make some important decisions that add to the quality of the team. In a lot of ways, the cap next year will be less than it was this year, so we’ll have to be creative. With that said, while we’ll have conversations with Pablo and his representation regarding returning next year, we’ll also look to bring in a new Designated Player.” said Toronto FC General Manager Ali Curtis in a statement.

Bringing Piatti back in 2021 on a cheaper deal would be a great bit of business for TFC, but the fact that they’re moving on from the Argentine should signify where the club’s head is at in terms of the quality of player they believe warrants that DP status. Piatti, 31, produced four goals and four assists in 19 games, developing a close relationship with the club’s best player on and off the field.

“I hope [Pablo] can stay here,” Pozuelo told Waking the Red on Friday. “He does a lot for the team, not only inside but outside. His personality. He tried to learn English, to speak with everybody. He’s a great professional. If he stays here, the team will be better. I hope he can stay with Toronto.”

The club also announced that the loan deal for defender Tony Gallacher will expire at the end of the year, meaning the 21 year old fullback will return to Liverpool. The team did have a purchase option on Gallacher, but an mutual ground did not appear to be found.

Toronto FC also exercised contract options for Kevin Silva, Julian Dunn, Nick DeLeon, Tsubasa Endoh, Liam Fraser, Achara and Ayo Akinola.

It wasn’t joyous news for everyone, however. Defenders Laurent Ciman, Justin Morrow and Eriq Zavaleta will all be out of contract at the end of the year, thus making them free agents in 2021 and eligible for the MLS re-entry process. Again, it doesn’t mean that their tenure with Toronto is over just yet.

“We’ll also have conversations with other players that qualify for free agency, such as Justin Morrow,” added Curtis.

Toronto FC’s 2021 roster as it currently stands (28/30 players):

Goalkeepers (3): Alex Bono, Kevin Silva, Quentin Westberg

Defenders (6): Auro Jr., Julian Dunn, Omar Gonzalez, Richie Laryea, Chris Mavinga, Rocco Romeo*

Midfielders (13): Michael Bradley, Nick DeLeon, Marky Delgado, Griffin Dorsey, Tsubasa Endoh, Liam Fraser, Erickson Gallardo, Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty, Noble Okello*, Jonathan Osorio, Alejandro Pozuelo, Ralph Priso, Jacob Shaffelburg

Forwards (6): Ifunanyachi Achara, Ayo Akinola, Jozy Altidore, Jayden Nelson, Patrick Mullins, Jordan Perruzza