FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – New England general manager Michael Burns said he has fielded several calls from other teams interested in acquiring attacking midfielder Juan Toja, who signed a deal with the league on Thursday.
Toja, 27, will learn his new MLS club on Monday after he goes through the MLS allocation process. New England currently hold the top spot in the allocation order and will not pass on the opportunity to select Toja, but Burns said the Revolution will listen to offers for the spot before deciding whether to keep the two-time MLS All-Star or trade him to another club.
“We're extremely serious about acquiring him,” Burns told MLSsoccer.com on Friday morning. “We have until Monday to make a decision. Between the announcement last night and today, we've already received some interest, as we thought we would. We'll listen to offers and then we'll make a decision on Monday whether we want to accept any of those offers or select the player. That's really what it comes down to.”
It may sound easy when stated that way, but the calculus in this particular case isn't straightforward. Revolution coach Jay Heaps currently has plenty of midfielders at his disposal, but players of Toja's proven quality rarely return to the league at this juncture in the calendar with no acquisition cost, either.
Heaps said the Revs will weigh those factors and several other variables as they contemplate whether to retain a player the Revolution boss rates highly.
“I think a lot goes into the process,” Heaps said. “We're excited a player of his caliber is coming back now. We're in a good position. I've personally played against the player on many occasions and I know him very well. It's always exciting when you know a proven MLS player is coming back to MLS. It's interesting. I think we'll see how the process plays out come Monday, but it's a really good position to be in because there's a lot of interest in Toja.”
Whether that interest will prompt an offer of equal or greater value to Toja's potential contribution to the Revolution remains uncertain. The answer will come by Monday. Either way, the Revs believe they will emerge from this process as a better side.
“We feel like, right now, we're in a good spot in terms of making our team better with Juan or making our team better in other ways,” Burns said. “I don't mean that with any disrespect to Juan, but we'll weigh the options and then make the final decision we feel is best for the Revs.”