Everything you need to know about Júlio César's reported move to Toronto FC
Toronto FC is expected to continue its winter shopping spree with the reported loan signing of Brazil number one Júlio César next week.
The former Inter Milan goalkeeper missed out on a loan switch during the January transfer window, but TFC – managed by former Queens Park Rangers teammate Ryan Nelsen – is planning to offer him an escape route to aid his preparations for the World Cup. Several outlets in Brazil and Canada confirmed the move on Friday.
If the temporary move does proceed according to plan, then TFC will have added a top goalkeeper to its ranks in stunning fashion. Need an explanation? Start with the root cause and then progress onwards from there.
Why is Júlio César in this position? His problems started when Inter Milan signed Samir Handanović – yes, U.S. national team fans, the same Slovenian number one from the 2010 World Cup – as its new starting goalkeeper at the start of the 2012-13 campaign. Handanović's arrival essentially forced Júlio César to move in search of first-team football, though his seven-year spell there had just about run its course anyways. He opted to sign with Queens Park Rangers after the promoted side offered him the sort of money you can't reject. Once QPR dropped out of the Premier League at the end of last season, manager Harry Redknapp installed Robert Green as his first choice for the long haul in the Championship and shopped Júlio César to Brazilian and European teams in a bid to trim his wage bill.
Wait a second: Redknapp actually starts Robert Green over Júlio César?: Yes. Let's just say the choice isn't made on ability alone and leave it there.
If Júlio César isn't getting games at QPR, then why hasn't he moved somewhere else?: He makes way, way too much money. His exact compensation remains in some doubt (English reports peg it anywhere between £45,000 and £90,000 per week, depending on the point the article needs to make), but its impact remains steadfast. Plenty of sides have expressed varied levels of interest in his services. None of them are willing to match his current level of compensation.
So how did Toronto FC – complete with its four Designated Players for three allotted spots – enter the picture?: TFC manager Ryan Nelsen played with Júlio César at QPR. And Júlio César really, really needs match practice ahead of the World Cup. He can't find it in Europe after failing to secure a move during the January transfer window. MLS – and a club with a former teammate as its manager, in particular – offers a viable alternative to reserve team appearances right now.
The playing side makes sense. What about the finances?: They aren't sensible even with a family and friends discount. All of the issues faced by other teams are compounded here by the salary budget and the strictures in place to ensure Toronto FC – or any other club, for that matter – does not ruin the MLS ecosystem. Júlio César isn't coming to MLS on his current wages. Or even a substantial fraction of them.
Is there a way to get this deal done, then?: Sure. It probably involves a free loan from QPR to avoid a salary budget hit for any loan fee. QPR will pay most, if not all, of Júlio César's wages, too. TFC will likely assume a modest portion of his salary as a budget charge.
How will other teams react?: Not particularly well. It's tough to make an argument for competitive balance when one team spends the better part of $100 million on two players and then still finds a way to squeeze Brazil's number one within the salary budget. Even if TFC finds a way to make the numbers work (and general manager Tim Bezbatchenko certainly knows the salary budget system well), it still looks awful to everyone else from that perspective. New York City FC might look on the move favorably, though.
Why would MLS sanction the deal, then?: Results outrank optics on the list of priorities. MLS is a better league with Júlio César in it, even if he only stays for a few months. And when these sorts of opportunities arise, the league finds a way to make them work.
If all of those details unfold as expected next week, then what can Toronto FC expect from Júlio César?: Complete and utter commitment over the next few months to obtain the necessary sharpness and secure his place in Brazil's World Cup squad. And a hearty handshake on his way out the door shortly thereafter for providing him with the matches required to fulfill both of those objectives.