Júlio César faces uncertain Toronto FC future as he joins Brazil for World Cup
Júlio César is ready to leave Toronto FC to start his preparations for the World Cup. He just doesn’t know if he’s coming back once the tournament concludes.
The former Inter Milan goalkeeper joined the Reds on loan from Queens Park Rangers earlier this year in search of first-team football. He retained his spot in the Brazil squad for the World Cup after settling well in MLS and shaking off any rust acquired during his protracted spell out of the QPR side.
His future with TFC remains in the balance, though. QPR agreed to a loan deal through the end of the MLS campaign, but TFC coach Ryan Nelsen told reporters on Tuesday the club had an agreement with the English Championship promotion contenders to end the pact in the summer if necessary.
The temporary nature of the accord – and its foundation as a means to allow Júlio César to obtain the necessary playing time before the World Cup at a minimal cost to TFC – creates ample uncertainty in the short- and medium-term. The probable Brazil number one admitted as much when he spoke to the local media on Tuesday.
“I don’t know,” Júlio César told reporters after his final Toronto FC training session before joining up with the Seleção. “It depends after the World Cup. I told you have I have a contract here until December, but QPR wants me in August. I don’t know what will happen after the World Cup.”
More than likely, his compensation will dictate either a return to QPR or a transfer to another club. QPR is currently on the hook for the vast majority of his wages, a figure reported in the English press to span anywhere from £45,000 to £90,000 per week. It makes little sense for QPR to subsidize all but a small portion of those obligations – TFC agreed to pay a modest amount ($202,000 in guaranteed compensation, per MLS Players Union documents), but the figure isn’t significant enough to classify him as a Designated Player – in order to allow him to remain in MLS after the World Cup.
At this stage, it makes more sense for QPR to recall its out-of-favor goalkeeper regardless of his final destination. If QPR defeats Derby County in the Championship playoff final on Saturday, then the club can ponder whether to retain his services as a promoted club in the top flight. If QPR fails to return to the Premier League at the first attempt, then the club can offload him in some fashion – it would likely take some sort of financial settlement to part ways given the two remaining years on his deal and the reluctance of other clubs to match his current salary – to permit him to return to Europe.
Toronto FC planned for this eventuality when it first struck the deal to bring Júlio César to MLS. This deal represented a beneficial marriage of convenience for a player in need of matches and a club willing to provide them. TFC retained former first-choice goalkeeper Joe Bendik to serve as the number two this season. He constitutes a capable, ready-made replacement if Nelsen loses his former QPR teammate during the summer.
Bendik isn’t Júlio César, but he possesses all of the tools to assume the starting role once more and provide the sort of stability required between the sticks. If he can maintain the sort of form he has shown in his recent outings for the club, then the Reds will proceed onwards with minimal harm to their overall aspirations.
TFC can also use the additional budget room created by Júlio César’s departure to strengthen the team elsewhere. The recent additions of Luke Moore and Collen Warner added depth at forward and in midfield, but Nelsen still needs more choices in the wide areas to obtain more consistency in that department. He could also plump for another center back to challenge Doneil Henry, though Bradley Orr’s versatility supplies an in-house alternative.
All of those choices rise to the fore if Júlio César returns to England or Europe once his World Cup exclusion concludes. His presence in Toronto offered a boost to the club and the league given his exalted status in his homeland, but his real reason for joining MLS will essentially disappear once he steps on the plane. If he departs during the summer, then TFC will thank him for his service and then turn elsewhere for the remainder of the season.