Toronto FC have continued their rebuilding exercise, bringing in vastly experienced goalkeeper Julio Cesar on loan from QPR. The deal can be considered a coup for the Canadian club. When QPR were relegated from the Premier League in one of the most spectacular and embarrassing seasons witnessed, Cesar was one of the few to leave the club with credit.
Upon their relegation, the player was linked with high profile clubs such as Arsenal. QPR didn’t win many matches, but Cesar kept them in the game more often than not. While basking in the glow, Cesar hasn’t always been the source of praise; in the seasons before his QPR move, he was oft criticized for his decline in form alongside the demise of Inter Milan. His revival in form speaks of his turn around, but also how he was the best of a bad bunch at the London club.
Speaking of the bad bunch, the villains of the season were quick to jump ship with the likes of Jose Bosingwa and Loic Remy moving onto pastures new. As Remy secured his return to the Premier League with Newcastle United, Cesar sat languishing at QPR, not playing for the club in their return to the Championship. With his lack of action and difficulty of a transfer, Toronto have been able to acquire a high calibre keeper.
The move was essential for Cesar, and creates a mutually beneficial relationship at Toronto. With the 2014 World Cup in Cesar’s home country, Brazil, it was important for him to get regular football. For Toronto, they gain a keeper of vast experience with a high desire to perform for his new team.
Brazil is naturally the dream and aspiration for all Brazilian players, but Cesar is more motivated than most. With the return of Luiz Felipe Scolari, Cesar become a hugely important character in the setup. The news was broken to the public via Scolari:
“Julio is in our group, he should be officially introduced to his new club. Toronto should be finalizing the last few details and he should be in great condition. There will be no problem with him. Lots of players arrive in the United States thinking it will be easy and then end up not playing. They stay for four or five months and then leave. We wish he were playing and now he will be. The MLS is not the end of his career.”
In addition to Scolari, Brazil technical coordinator Carlos Alberto Parreira claimed:
“The MLS is technically not one of the best in the world, but it is very competitive. It was really important for us that he played.
“Julio played the last match for us and he hadn’t been playing. He was really well, playing well, his reflexes were all perfect. If he plays 10, 15 matches until the World Cup it will be great. And he has that quality of still being the same player despite not being active.”
Scolari’s comments hint at a larger problem. Saying that “lots of players arrive in the United States thinking it is easy,” not only portrays Cesar’s future employers as small fry and shows disrespect. Beyond that, Cesar’s character can be of question. Joining a club like QPR, and wishing to leave so quickly, suggests a player motivated more highly by money than most.
Another issue for the club is Joe Bendik. It seems odd to push aside a more than capable keeper for a temporary keeper who will be gone as soon as he arrived. As Alexi Lalas put it, the signing of Cesar is: “Big name, average goalkeeper.”
Despite the questions over his quality and motivation, Toronto have once again added another big name for the upcoming season in an unprecedented player acquisition sweeps. With all the names to fill the spine of their starting eleven, it will be interesting to see how manager, and ex teammate of Cesar, Ryan Nelsen fits his side together in a season expected to be of a much better standard than the last.
With Leiweke’s money and brand, it’s hard to see where Toronto’s moves and building will end, and whether Toronto can join the more high profile names of MLS.