TORONTO, Canada—It appears Pablo Piatti is close to returning to Spain, according to a report Wednesday from Spanish newspaper AS, which has since picked up traction.
As was reported last week, Piatti is close to signing with La Liga’s Elche CF, a newly promoted side who currently sit second from the bottom of the table—two points back from being safe from relegation. With two games in hand, however, adding Piatti (and others, as they’re apparently looking to add three players), could help dramatically in their push towards avoiding relegation.
The deal is said to already be negotiated pending a physical, with the Spanish side wanting to ensure Piatti is fit and ready to jump back into La Liga right away.
His experience, of course, should help. The 31-year-old winger appeared in 294 games in La Liga over the course of 12 seasons, including stints with Valencia CF, RCD Espanyol, and UD Almería. 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, after recording an impressive 10 goals and 11 assists.
As TFC fans know all too well, he was coming off a serious ACL injury in 2019, which possibly explains the La Liga side’s cautious approach the situation, despite Piatti’s strong year with Toronto FC in 2020.
After netting four goals and four assists in 19 games, the former designated player (DP)’s contract option was declined by TFC in order to free up a DP spot, 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.”
The TFC GM echoed that sentiment last month when asked about those conversations with Piatti.
“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.”
Pablo Piatti’s future with the team remains to be seen, but for all of the insanity of the 2020 season, the Argentine has been an excellent signing.— Waking the Red (@WakingtheRed) October 22, 2020
:https://t.co/ikoR87ctWx#TFCLive | :@mitchelltierney
If reports are true, it appears that those cap issues were unfortunately too much to overcome, and Piatti will indeed be moving on in 2021.