By DAN KARELL
MLSE CEO Tim Leiweke and Toronto FC general manager Tim Bezbatchenko’s vision to field a strong TFC lineup next season is slowly beginning to form.
The club announced today that they have signed Brazilian forward Gilberto to be the team’s next Designated Player signing, pending the receipt of his International Transfer Certificate (ITC) and his visa. Gilberto instantly adds a new attacking threat to TFC’s lineup, having scored 14 goals in 24 matches in Brazil’s Serie A this past season.
“Gilberto is a great DP addition to our roster. He’s young, incredibly talented and a proven goal scorer at every level he’s played,” Bezbatchenko in a press release. “The Brazilian Serie A is one of the best leagues in the world and acquiring a top striker from that league is a testament to the faith Gilberto has in what we are doing at our club.
“We promised our fans back in September that this Club would make bold moves this offseason and that they should evaluate our progress in January. We feel that this is a key step and we will continue to work towards delivering on that promise over the next month.”
The 24-year-old Gilberto faces a real challenge in Major League Soccer as it’s the first time he’s played outside of Brazil. After coming up through the youth ranks of Santa Cruz, Gilberto made a big move in 2011 to Internacional of Porto Alegre. Unfortunately for Gilberto, he struggled to earn a regular place in the starting lineup and was eventually loaned out to Sport Recife in 2012 and Portuguesa this past season.
On the plus side for TFC, they reportedly beat out a number of European teams for Gilberto’s signature, and if this past season isn’t an aberration, they’re signing a talented player who is just entering his prime. They’ll be hoping Gilberto’s signing doesn’t follow the path of Designated Player signings from Toronto’s previous regimes, with Mista, Torsten Frings, and Danny Koevermans failing to live up to expectations.
Matias Laba, signed last year as a young Designated Player, played well but missed the last two months of the season with a fractured toe.
Gilberto is reportedly just the first of two Designated Player signings that TFC will make this offseason, with their top target remaining Tottenham forward Jermain Defoe.
What do you think of this signing? Excited for Toronto FC? Think that Gilberto can make a difference in MLS? Do you believe that Jermain Defoe is coming next?
Share your thoughts below.