Transfer Tracker

Vancouver Whitecaps add to depth by signing versatile ex-Portuguese youth international

Janio Bikel - CSKA Sofia - Close up


The Vancouver Whitecaps added to their roster on the eve of the 2020 MLS season by signing Janio Bikel via a transfer from CSKA Sofia in Bulgaria’s First Professional Football League.

The 24-year-old central midfielder, who can also play right back, signed a contract through 2022, with a club option for 2023. The former Portuguese youth international will occupy an international roster spot and will join the team pending receipt of his International Transfer Certificate (ITC), medical, work permit, and visa.

“Tactically, Janio gives us the ability to play him in a couple of different positions. He is versatile, he has the right mindset, good physical abilities, and fits the profile we want here,” Whitecaps FC head coach Marc Dos Santos said in a statement. “I know the coaches he had at the Portuguese youth national teams. He’s a player who has been an important member at his previous clubs and we are very happy to have him in Vancouver.”

Bikel, who represented Portugal at the U-19 and U-20 levels, has made 59 appearances for CSKA Sofia since transferring to the club in July, 2018. He helped the Reds to a runner-up finish in the Bulgarian First League, as well as a semifinal berth in the Bulgarian Cup in his first season.

He started his professional career at SC Heerenveen in March, 2015 after coming up through the Dutch club’s youth ranks. He then transferred to Dutch side NEC Nijmegen in July 2015 for three seasons.

In over five professional seasons, Bikel has compiled 140 first-team appearances across all competitions in his career.

“Janio provides a lot of options for us as he is comfortable in possession, a good dribbler, and is always defensively aware,” added Whitecaps FC sporting director Axel Schuster. “He can play centrally in the midfield and recently he has played right back. It is also important to note he is only 24 and has already played 140 professional games.”