As Laurent Ciman was signed on December 27 through the allocation process, I wanted to take a look at who he is exactly, and what he’ll bring to Toronto FC.
Laurent Ciman is an aggressive centre-back who likes to run forward a lot, and gets out of position a decent amount, but overall is a quality centre-back who is a step above most of the defenders in MLS. He was born in Farciennes, Belgium, and has continued to play for the Belgian national team since 2010, making 20 appearances and scoring 1 goal with the national side.
He started off his career in the youth system of Belgian team Charleroi, and by 2004, he made it to the first team, making 85 appearances there until he moved on to a bigger Belgian side, Club Brugge, the team that TFC playmaker Victor Vazquez made his name at. In his time with Brugge, he made only 16 appearances between 2008-2010, and sandwiched in between his time there he went on loan to Kortrijk, who play in the second division of Belgian football, where he was a key central defender for them.
In June 2010, he was signed to another large team in Belgian soccer, Standard Liege, where he played from 2010-2015, making 152 appearances. He even won the Belgian Cup during his time there, which was the first real piece of silverware that he tasted in his career.
On January 22, 2015, he started to make his name in MLS and Canada, where he signed with our 401 Derby rivals Montreal Impact on a three-year contract, looking to shore up the Impact’s defence for the 2015 season. He was signed just under a DP contract, which was a surprise to many, as he was such a high profile defender to come to an MLS side.
Ciman was a successful signing. In just one season with Montreal, he took them from being the worst team in the league to one of the better sides, and one of the better defensive teams in the league as well. For his accomplishments and obvious raw skill level, he was invited to the 2015 MLS All-Star game vs Tottenham Hotspur, where the MLS All-Stars won 2-1 in Colorado.
He continued playing well with Montreal in 2016, but ended up falling short of expectations in 2017, as his team became one of the worst defensive teams the league.Although I believe this was partly to do with him, I also think it was partly to do with the squad that Montreal had in the first place, and fans laid a lot of the blame on Ciman, as he was the DP defender that was signed to shore up the backline. He was then traded to 2018 MLS expansion team Los Angeles Football Club during the MLS Expansion Draft, in exchange for Toronto FC man Raheem Edwards, and Jukka Raitala.
With LAFC, his time with them started off with a bit of drama, as it was believed that a big part of the reason why he came to Montreal in the first place was because of the care services available in Quebec for his daughter, who has autism. Ciman was reportedly caught off guard by the move.
Regardless, he continued to play for LAFC, becoming the team’s first captain, and played fairly well with them (even showing off his free kick skills there, scoring a few goals here and there from set pieces), and scored the first goal at their home stadium. He then signed a deal in the middle of the MLS season with French club Dijon FCO on a two-year contract. It was reported that the transfer fee for him was around $500,000.
But after just four months, he mutually terminated his contract with the French club amid rumours that he was going to sign with Toronto FC. He then went into the allocation process, and TFC traded up the rankings with the likes of San Jose Earthquakes and FC Cincinnati. He was then picked by Toronto FC and now is signed on a TAM (targeted allocation money) contract with Toronto FC.
He should serve as a new quality central defender for Toronto FC whom I personally could see as the absolute central defender in a three-at-the-back formation like the 3-5-2, or as the right central defender beside Chris Mavinga in a back four like the 4-4-2 diamond.
This signing is generating a lot of buzz as a Belgian 2014 World Cup and 2016 Euros defender; one of the best defenders to ever grace MLS has now signed with Toronto FC on what’s reportedly a fairly inexpensive deal. He should be able to help Toronto FC compete for more trophies over the course of his 2 year contract.
Welcome to the red side of the rivalry, Laurent.