On MLS’s transfer deadline day, Toronto FC acquired Lucas Janson on loan from Argentinian Primera División side Tigre. Since Janson was signed, it’s time to look at what the TFC front office’s intent is, and what role he’ll play in the first team for the rest of the season.
In terms of some of the general info about Lucas Janson, he is a 24-year-old offensive-minded player, who can play a variety of attacking positions. He was born in Olavarria, Argentina and has played in his home country his whole career until now, playing for Argentinian Primera División (First Division) side, Tigre. Janson is on the shorter side in terms of height, standing at 5’7”.
The initial point that Tim Bezbatchenko made when Lucas Janson was signed was that he is a very versatile player; he can play as a winger, a striker, and can even operate as an attacking midfielder. This is extremely valuable in the current Toronto FC first team, as he can fill in as a backup striker whenever either Jozy Altidore or Sebastian Giovinco are out, and could prove to perform better than players like Tosaint Ricketts and Jordan Hamilton have played so far this season. Ricketts has only scored three goals in 542 minutes so far this season and has looked below-par compared to his previous seasons, averaging one goal for every 181 minutes. On the other hand, Jordan Hamilton hasn’t had the best of campaigns either, as the youngster has only scored twice in 731 minutes — averaging to a goal every 366 minutes. That's a far cry from his 2017 goal/minutes ratio, when he scored one goal per 71 minutes in his limited time on the field.
Lucas Janson could also go on to be a backup attacking midfielder for players like Jonathan Osorio and Victor Vazquez — which perhaps needed more depth prior to his signing, as Ager Aketxe moved to Cadiz on loan a little while back. As a winger, I’m not sure how much value Janson will bring to the Reds though, as TFC have generally only played with wing-backs this season (and no wingers), who often need good defensive qualities to go along with their offensive capabilities. I’m not sure if Janson actually could make that transition in a few games, and I wouldn’t expect Toronto FC to make an astronomical formation change all of a sudden that would have wingers, any time this season.
To be honest, the numbers don’t really back up the signing of Janson. In 82 league appearances with the Tigre first team, Janson has netted a total of 10 goals, and has gotten 10 assists as well. To put that in perspective, this means that he only scores and assists a goal every 8.2 games. That’s not great, especially for a player his age with a reported price tag of over $3 million. In comparison, Jonathan Osorio plays in a slightly less offensive role than the roles that Lucas Janson can play in, and yet in his Toronto FC career, he averages a goal every 7.7 games, and an assist every 6.5 games. But as much as he may not be the most impressive signing on the forefront, he might look like a very wise addition in the long-term if TFC choose to buy him.
Look at Nicolas Hasler, who was playing for a second tier Swiss league team prior to signing for the Reds, and yet he turned out to become one of the fan favourites in Toronto FC’s first team in 2018 until of course he was traded to Chicago Fire.
Looking at how Lucas Janson plays, he certainly has some pretty positive aspects that TFC’s other attackers don’t have. Although he stands at 5’7” he is actually quite decent in the air, and has even scored a few goals from headers. Janson is a fairly strong and aggressive player, and will certainly push back when defenders are pressuring him. He is good at passing, but isn’t the best at using skill moves or doing ‘fancy footwork’. Overall, he is a type of player that the Reds didn’t have in their attack until now and will bring a new style to the Toronto FC.
Although I’m a little skeptical about this signing with how many forwards that Toronto FC now has, I am still positive that he could perhaps help TFC make a playoff push as we’re reaching the latter stages of the 2018 MLS Regular Season.