When it comes to Canadian soccer, there are few more authoritative voices than midfielder Atiba Hutchinson, who’s coming off his eighth season and third Super Lig title with Besiktas.
And if the 38-year-old has his way, Toronto FC outside back Richie Laryea could soon join him at the Turkish club. Or at the very least, Canada’s second most-capped player is hopeful that Laryea gets the chance to prove himself in Europe.
“Whether it’s Besiktas or another club in Europe, I think he’s definitely got the potential,” Hutchinson said during a beIN SPORTS interview. “I really like him as a player. I think he’s good going both ways, very positive and confident in himself, good feet, solid defensively and he’s got what it takes to be a player that can play at a high level in Europe.
“I had a couple of words with the club, that was my part of advice. He’s somebody that I feel could make a difference. I’ll obviously mention that player to my club or any other club if I feel it's needed. But like I said, I think he’s a good player and he's got a lot of potential."
Laryea is amid his sixth season in MLS, originally playing for Orlando City SC after being a first-round pick (seventh overall) in the 2016 SuperDraft. He starred at Akron University, but never quite found his footing across three campaigns in Orlando.
His career really took off in 2019 upon signing for Toronto FC, prompting a shift from midfield to outside back. To date, he’s posted six goals and seven assists in 67 MLS games (40 starts). He’s also earned eight caps with Canada’s national team, scoring once.
That all contributed to Laryea being linked to European suitors this past offseason, a topic he addressed on an episode of Extratime: Club and Country this past April. Understandably, Laryea is aspirational and chasing his dreams.
“Yes, my goal is definitely to get to Europe," Laryea, 26, said at the time. "That's what I dreamed of as a kid playing with my brother in the backyard, you're screaming out Champions League Final goals, World Cup goals, so those are goals I had as a kid that I'm not giving up on. I want to play at the highest level possible and the best competition possible, so that's still not out of mind for me. I'm definitely set on trying to do something like that.
"Will it happen? Time will tell. It also depends I think mostly on me and my performances and the other bit I'll leave to whoever else has to sort that out for me, or whatever that might be. But I'm just fully focused on the now and doing well and once you're doing well it opens up a lot of different things, so hopefully I can reach those goals I want to like Europe and whatever else it might be."
Should Laryea depart Toronto ahead of the 2021-22 campaign, be it to Besiktas or elsewhere, Toronto would have Auro as a strong option at right back. They also signed former New York Red Bulls left back Kemar Lawrence in early May, strengthening the fullback position under head coach Chris Armas.
For more from Hutchinson on Laryea or other topics, check out the entire beIN SPORTS interview here.