Plata return to Toronto nearly a done deal

Joao Plata en accion ante Real Salt Lake

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NEW YORK – The return of diminutive Ecuadorian forward Joao Plata to Toronto FC is practically a done deal, according to the player himself and the team that owns his rights.

The negotiations between the Canadian club and Liga Deportiva Universitaria de Quito are at such an advanced stage that only some simple details need to be ironed out to reach a final agreement.

“We’ve received a formal offer in regards to the option of buying 50 percent of the player’s rights,” Liga de Quito sporting director Esteban Paz told FutbolMLS.com on Friday. “Both [Gustavo Leskovich, Plata’s agent] and the folks from MLS expressed such interest that they sent the document for us to review and sign. There are some changes that must be made, but we believe that between a week and 15 days, everything will be resolved.”

According to Paz, apart from owning 50 percent of Plata’s rights, Toronto would sign the player to a three-year deal.

“[The length of the contract] was agreed upon between MLS and Joao,” Paz explained. “They told me it would be for three years, a contract that would span from 2012 until 2015. [Toronto] are interested in acquiring just 50 percent of his rights.”

Toronto FC declined to comment while the negotiations are still ongoing, citing team policy.

Paz confessed that Liga de Quito and the coaching staff were interested in retaining the player for the 2012 season. But according to the agreement the South American side signed with MLS before the 2011 campaign, Toronto had the option of renewing with Plata if they so desired.

However, even if Liga de Quito had first dibs, it was the player himself who facilitated the negotiations between the two clubs.

“When [Liga de Quito] asked me to stay for the upcoming year, I told them I felt comfortably in Toronto and that I wanted to be there next season,” Plata told FutbolMLS.com on Friday. “[Quito] told me it was my decision. … I [spoke with my family], I felt comfortable in Toronto, and next year, I’ll be back with the team.”

One of the biggest factors that influenced Plata’s decision to return to the Reds is his prominent role with the club, which wouldn’t be the case at Liga de Quito, where Plata would be an option off the bench.

“That was my concern and the concern of my family,” Plata admitted. “Knowing that I was playing in Toronto, in Liga, I wouldn’t be able to play as much. Personally, I’m happy to be in Toronto and I know that the team didn’t do so well, but I think next year will be better.”

Paz, who described Plata as a “fantastic” player, applauded the player’s decision, as he agrees that his chances of getting a starting role with los Blancos would be slim.

“For [Plata], it would’ve been a tough situation,” Paz said. “A starting spot with Liga wouldn’t be a guarantee whatsoever, so I think that for his career, the best thing we could do is give him the chance to stay in MLS. From every point of view, it’s very convenient for him to continue his career [in Toronto].”

While the final details are still being finalized between Liga de Quito and Toronto, Plata is still on vacation in his hometown of Guayaquil, Ecuador, where he’s been staying sharp by training with the academy where he began his career, Alfaro Moreno.

“I’m staying active,” he said. “January’s around the corner and I’m training hard to arrive [in Toronto] in optimal conditions. I’ll be back in Toronto on Jan. 22.”

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