Uruguayan international Diego Forlan is set to make the switch from Brazilian football over to Major League Soccer, after The Globe and Mail reported he would sign with Toronto FC as a Designated Player. Forlan, 34, would become the club’s fifth Designated Player, or DP, a designation given to players with multimillion-dollar deals that would not fit under the league’s mandatory salary cap.
Currently with Internacional in the Brazilian league, Forlan made headlines in the 2010 FIFA World Cup, when he won the Golden Ball after scoring five goals for Uruguay and leading the nation to a third-place finish in the tournament. He would be one of the highest paid players in MLS, should the deal go through.
Toronto FC’s ownership group, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, has made no secret of their desire to obtain a player rivalling Thierry Henry and Marco Di Vaio in quality. The group’s new owner, Tim Leiweke, was responsible for the Los Angeles Galaxy’s acquisition of David Beckham, and is looking to swoop in for another major pick up with Forlan.
He’ll be needed at Toronto FC, too. The Canadian outfit is in dire need of a leader, with the average age of the team hovering somewhere in the low-to-mid 20s on any given day. High player turnover has seen Toronto cycle through many faces, but some of the more established footballers have enjoyed their stay at TFC. Most notably, former German international Torsten Frings made his presence felt in the league, bossing the midfield and combining well with another Toronto DP, Dutch forward Danny Koevermans.
Forlan would add a much-needed element in the attacking third for Toronto FC. His ability to find the goal by himself while also playing the role of provider makes him a valuable asset to any team, and in particular, Uruguay has benefited from his skillset. Luis Suarez and Edison Cavani are no strangers to Forlan’s impeccable passing ability while opposition goalkeepers can attest to the power of his striking foot.
Yet, there are still concerns from Toronto FC fans, who say Forlan is an aging star and not a player that the club can build around. While Toronto’s rivals, the Montreal Impact, have built their team around Di Vaio, Toronto has no such figurehead and Forlan’s arrival would give them a concrete player – and potentially, a captain – to build around, too. Di Vaio has been a tremendous success and the Italian’s penchant for goalscoring has not yielded at all since he signed for the Quebec-based club.
Still, these concerns are valid, and the club has also been linked with Newell’s Old Boys forward Maximiliano Urruti, a player who has also piqued the interest of Pumas in Mexico. It is Forlan, however, who has been rumoured for weeks and the story has taken a turn for the better in the last few days.
Should Toronto FC complete the signing of Diego Forlan, they would be getting a player who is, arguably, the best player in the entire league today, and in a position that Toronto FC has struggled to find consistency with. The club plays in a standard 4-4-2 with Argentine international Matias Laba anchoring the midfield and former Reading winger Bobby Convey on the wing. The club relies on both Koevermans and Welsh international Robert Earnshaw for their goals, but with Forlan in the mix, the club can employ an attacking midfielder/second forward.
More importantly, Toronto FC can benefit from Forlan’s experience, something that is sorely missing in the club – Forlan, who has over 100 caps for Uruguay and has played for some of the biggest clubs in the world, can help a young (and largely Canadian) team develop.
It doesn’t hurt that he would be an easy lock for a position in the MLS All-Star team! In Diego Forlan, Toronto FC gain a leader, a solo star, a team helper, and a powerhouse in offense, a player who could help turn the club’s fortunes around and could, perhaps, also extinguish the inexperience that has caused headaches all season for Toronto. The team has conceded numerous late goals, blown leads, lost ties and dropped down the standings, picking up only two wins in a season now halfway through.
Toronto FC needs a player like Forlan to help on the field, and head coach Ryan Nelsen, formerly of QPR, will be pleased with a signing of Forlan’s calibre, too. The signing is set to be announced sometime in midweek, but the headlines will be repeated endlessly throughout the city for days to come.