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Report: Several La Liga clubs interested in Pablo Piatti

A potential TFC x Pablo Piatti reunion is starting to look more and more unlikely.

Former Toronto FC designated player Pablo Piatti dribbles at a Montreal Impact defender.
(Canada Soccer)

TORONTO, Canada—If Pablo Piatti elects to return to Toronto FC in 2021, he should be celebrated.

After netting four goals and four assists in 19 games, the former designated player (DP)’s contract option was declined by TFC at the end of last season, thus, making the 31 year old a free agent. Though as team President Bill Manning hinted at the time, that didn’t completely rule out the potential for a PP x TFC reunion in 2021.

“Pablo was an important addition this year,” said team President Bill Manning on Dec. 1. “He fit in very well with the team. His goals against average when he was on the field I think was the lowest on the team. We won a lot more games when he played—lots of positives. And Ali (Curtis) has had very good discussions with his agent. So, if we’re in a position where we can have a new designated player and Pablo on the team together, I think we’re going to be better.”

Considering Piatti was coming off a serious ligament injury, all things considered, it was a solid debut season for the Argentine’s first in North America, and the goal, no matter how farfetched, had been set: TFC wanted to bring the Argentine back as a non-DP along with introducing a new star. And, at the time, not only did bringing Piatti back feel feasible, it felt close.

“In terms of the conversations with Pablo and his representation, those have been really good,” said GM Ali Curtis on Dec. 1. “I started those probably a couple of months ago—spoke to Pablo and his representation a few days ago as well … if we can bring back Pablo, then fantastic. Really our cap and those challenges will give us ideas if that can be achieved.”

Reading into Curtis’ words, with the Reds operating under a tight salary budget heading into next season, the only way TFC would be able to accomplish both—bringing in a new DP & re-signing PP—would be if Piatti were willing to take a significant ‘hometown’ discount.

The TFC GM echoed that sentiment at the beginning of the month when giving an update on Piatti to media.

“I’m still in touch with Pablo’s representation,” said Curtis. “To be honest, he and I, we played phone tag yesterday, and there’s been some text messages and some contact today. With Greg’s departure, we felt it was best to first bring aboard a head coach and really focus on more bringing in a new designated player. And so, there’s always been the potential in bringing Pablo back, but it wouldn’t be as a DP.

“Some of these things are cap issues as well and how you make those things work.”

That brings us to some of the latest murmurs out of Spain this week that several La Liga clubs are interested in the former La Liga star.

Piatti, 31, spent 12 seasons in Spain, including stints with UD Almeria, Valencia, and Espanyol before joining Toronto in 2020. In 2016-17, he’d be one of 11 players named to the UEFA La Liga Team of the Season, joining the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

Word has it that Elche CF, a newly promoted side, would be one of the teams seriously interested in the former TFC winger should he wish to return overseas. Piatti is currently back home in Argentina with his family.

At this point, these are just rumours — nothing to take too seriously.

But with that being said, it is worth noting that earlier in the offseason, Piatti did go through the MLS Re-Entry Draft process, making himself available to all other 26 MLS clubs. He wasn’t chosen at his then-price tag (a designated player), but perhaps his willingness to take part is that process shows that he is inclined to seek out a greater pay day than what TFC has been offering.

To sum up, if Piatti does return to Toronto in 2021, I’d expect he’d leave money on the table to do so, and thus, as I mentioned off the bat, if he does elect to do so, the Argentine should be celebrated.