With Italian striker Marco Di Vaio currently tearing up MLS as its top scorer, Toronto FC head honcho Tim Leiweke, president and CEO of owners MLSE, admitted on Thursday that his club could be in the market for an Italian Designated Player of their own.
Leiweke spoke with the Toronto media on Thursday about the departure of Kevin Payne from his post as president and GM, but he also answered questions on a variety of topics, including TFC’s strategy with respect to signing Designated Players.
With the city of Toronto having the largest population of Italian descent outside of Italy, Leiweke was asked if he was committed to trying to bring a high quality Italian DP to TFC. And he didn't mince words.
“Yes,” Leiweke stated bluntly.
So while the search for a new general manager to replace Payne has already commenced, so too has the search for new DPs for Toronto FC, with Leiweke and TFC manager Ryan Nelsen both leading the charge with respect to the latter search.
“I don’t want to be the GM, but we will be involved on the DPs,” Leiweke said. “I would say that our involvement will be on big contracts and big commitments on behalf of our owners. We will be involved in trying to find the right DPs and trying to make the right deals.
“Ryan [Nelsen] is helping and leading the charge on identifying the players that he wants,” Leiweke added. “They are DPs and they are marquee DPs and he is anxious and excited about that. Ryan and I are 100 percent on the same page on this January window and what we are looking for and on the players we are looking for. We have had specific conversations about targets.”
And Leiweke says he's not content just waiting until the next international transfer window opens in January before getting to work on the next marquee names for his club.
“I believe we need to get to work today on the next window. I don’t think you start that January 1, I think you conclude that January 1," Leiweke said. “We will be over in Europe soon and we have already had conversations with teams and agents, so that we understand what is out there, who we want and how they fit into the rest of Ryan’s team.
“These guys may be guys that we can get in January or these may be players that we make the deal on in January and then we see them after the World Cup," continued Leiweke. "We’re open to either because we will be patient such that we find the right guys. This is about finding the right players for our team and our coach.”
Steve Bottjer covers Toronto FC for MLSsoccer.com.