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How a European move for Richie Laryea could be the shape of things to come for TFC

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With Laryea continuing his stellar play, the WTR Weekly crew discuss what may be the best move for the 26-year-old fullback.

Leon v Toronto - Concacaf Champions League 2021
ichie Laryea #22 of Toronto competes for the ball with Yairo Moreno #11 of Leon during a first leg match of round of sixteen between Leon and Toronto as part of Concacaf Champions League 2021 at Leon Stadium on April 7, 2021 in Leon, Mexico.
(Smith/Getty)

With more and more Canadian players drawing interest from top European leagues, it’s no surprise to see Richie Laryea’s name in the headlines.

And after Atiba Hutchinson recommended Laryea for a Besiktas link up in Turkey, the latest edition of Waking The Red Weekly presented by Footy Talks took a closer look at what might be the shape of things to come for TFC fans.

For Michael Singh, a move abroad would be the natural move for a player who’s improved consistently for club and country over recent seasons:

“Greg Vanney likened Richie Laryea to Alphonso Davies last year and we kind of saw why in that first [Canadian National Team] match. They played very similar positions but on opposite wings and they both had very similar roles. If you can set up in a back four to start with, but then shift to five—as Vanney did so many times last season—Richie Laryea can thrive. And we’re starting to see teams and managers game plan for Richie Laryea being that difference maker in the side.”

“Greg Vanney did it last season and I think John Herdman did it during Canada’s last game. So, I’m not surprised to see that European interest—it’s something that I’ve been writing about for a long time. I don’t see why there’s any reason why Richie Laryea shouldn’t be attracting European interest. He could be the best right back for Canada right now—I think he probably is. His trajectory has risen so quickly in the last two years and I can’t imagine what this season is going to look like. Alistar Johnson came out and said Richie Laryea is the best right back in MLS, and he was nominated for MLS defender of the year last season. It’s just such a good story, and I really think that the sky’s the limit for him right now because he’s on an upwards trajectory to the moon.”

For Jeffery P. Nesker, while a transatlantic move would definitely be well deserved for the Toronto right back, the question is whether the Turkisk league would represent a real forward step for a player of Richie’s calibur:

“Nobody else is mad at Atiba even just a little bit? He’s like the worst house guest ever! He comes over for one night and raids your cupboards bare. Do you think Besiktas is a logical next step for Richie Laryea?”

“I mean there’s the advantage of playing with other Canadians in your domestic side which can’t be undervalued. But in terms of league stature and competitions, I just wonder if that would be—maybe not a lateral move—but not necessarily the step up that is deserving of Richie’s achievements?”

For Mitchell Tierney, the right move for Laryea would be one with the promise of guaranteed minuteswhich would likely put him outside the very best European leagues:

“I think [Besiktas] is the perfect level. Look, I don’t think Richie’s a Premier League player. As good as he is, I don’t think he’s going to one of those top four leagues. So, this is a top club in one of those kinds of outside top four leagues that’s at a solid level—and he’s going to get European soccer. So I think that’s the perfect spot for him.”

“When rumours of European interest were first reported, I said Belgium would be a good spot for him—and Turkey’s kind of that similar level, maybe not as deep in terms of clubs but a high calibre. I think it’s a perfect level for him. It’s a club he could go to and probably get playing time. And that’s paramount to anything because Richie didn’t have his resurgence just to sit on the bench again. He needs to play—for Canada’s sake and his sake he needs to get playing time.”

Wrapping up the discussion, Michael Singh highlighted the double edged sword of Canada’s rising profile in the footballing world. Players want to perform on the highest stage—and that stage remains far beyond MLS:

“I think we, as TFC fans, should prepare to let some of these guys go. I know Jeff you’re saying how mad are we at Atiba Hutchinson? But the reality is that these guys want to play at the highest level of soccer—whether that is Europe or somewhere else.”

“Yes sure, they grew up in Canada, but these guys want to be global stars and to get there they have to play at the highest levels. Unfortunately right now that’s not Major League Soccer and that’s not Toronto FC.”

“Toronto FC might be the highest club in Major League Soccer, but there’s better leagues outside MLS. I think we’re going to see not only Richie depart overseas at some point but we’re going to see a couple of Toronto FC’s players head in that direction as well.”