TORONTO – While he has not yet officially been announced as a Toronto FC player, Argentine forward Maximiliano Urruti did train with the team for the first time on Wednesday.
Toronto’s interest in the 22-year-old attacker has been well-known for months now and the Canadian club had been very close to finalizing a deal to acquire the player back in the spring. TFC coach Ryan Nelsen guardedly admitted on Wednesday that his club is now working to finalize a deal that would make Urruti a long-awaited official TFC player.
“I think we were hoping he could play about six months ago,” Nelsen told MLSsoccer.com. “Hopefully he will be able to play pretty soon. I was told about six months ago that a deal was done, so I can’t say anything at the moment because things do happen. But I would like to say that it is pretty close to being done.”
Urruti’s former club, Newell’s Old Boys, has been experiencing financial issues in recent months and the Rosario, Argentina, native recently left the Argentine Primera División side over non-payment of wages.
“His club is going through some issues and there are some legal issues that the club is kind of dealing with,” Nelsen added. “So that’s why it has to go through a third party kind of thing, which is what has made it a wee bit more difficult and why it has been held up for some long.”
When asked why Toronto has been so dogged in their pursuit of the striker, the TFC gaffer described Urruti as another youngster who can be a key part of the young core that TFC have been trying to build since Nelsen and Toronto president and GM Kevin Payne took over at the helm of the club.
“He is a very direct striker and always seems to get on the end of things,” Nelsen said. “He has good work habits and his technical ability is very good. He ticks off a lot of boxes. He is also at a nice age where you obviously haven’t seen the best of him and he has a lot of room to grow. He is a good young player who could be at our club for several years. A lot of clubs have been interested and are still interested in Maxi.”
If Toronto can finalize a deal with Urruti, he will become the second young Argentine to join following the club’s earlier acquisition of defensive midfielder Matias Laba. Nelsen was quick to state that TFC supporters shouldn’t read too much into the club’s apparent preference for Argentine talent.
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“We don’t target certain countries or a certain area,” Nelsen stated. “We just target good players. It would be foolish to just look at one country. We also brought in Alvaro Rey, who is Spanish, and Steven Caldwell, who is a Scotsman. It is always about their quality, their character and personality and what level they are playing at.”
With Toronto scheduled to face off against Columbus on Saturday (7:30 pm ET, watch on MLS Live), there is a possibility that Urruti could make his MLS debut against fellow countryman and Crew stalwart Federico Higuain. However, Nelsen did caution that Toronto likely won’t rush to field a player that the club has gone to such lengths to acquire.
“I’m not sure [if he will be available Saturday],” Nelsen said. “He hasn’t played in quite a bit. We’re not going to throw the guy in the deep end. This is only one game and it is all about what is best for the player. He’ll need to get used to the league and the travel. Guys are fit here and the MLS is a hard league, so we’ll do what’s best for the player and the team.”