TORONTO – Even with Brazilian national team head coach Luiz Felipe Scolari confirming on Tuesday that veteran goalkeeper Júlio César will indeed be joining Toronto FC, general manager Tim Bezbatchenko and head coach Ryan Nelsen were still somewhat coy when asked about their club’s prospects of landing the Queens Park Rangers 'keeper.
“I can’t comment on that right now, but when something happens, if it happens, I will let the media know,” Bezbatchenko told reporters on Tuesday at the team’s preseason media event.
Nelsen was similarly non-committal but also effusive in his praise for his former QPR teammate.
“At the moment, I can’t really comment because nothing has been finalized,” Nelsen said. “I haven’t spoken to Júlio for a couple of days, so I don’t know [about what Scolari said]. It is something that would be really nice for the Toronto fans and the community to have a player of his skill, expertise and experience. I might have to give Scolari a call to see if it has happened.”
Nelsen said he knows from his time playing with Júlio César that his quality extends on and off the pitch.
“When you see him at work, you see the reason why he has played nearly 80 times for Brazil,” Nelsen said. “That’s why I am excited because if it ever did come to pass, to be able to have a current Brazilian national team player who is about to go to the World Cup, it would be something special for the club and the city in my opinion.”
Current TFC 'keeper Joe Bendik, who would likely be supplanted in Toronto’s starting 11 by the 34-year-old should a deal become finalized, also expressed excitement at the prospect of having a world-class 'keeper on the club’s roster.
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“Obviously, at first the news was a little bit tough to swallow,” Bendik told MLSsoccer.com. “But after the first 24 hours and having a chance to speak with my goalkeeper coach and Nellie, I realized it is only a win-win situation for me. If you look around the league, it is really such a unique opportunity to have someone my age and then a player like Júlio César, who has still has a few years to play and who will play in the World Cup. To learn from him is going to be incredible.
“Obviously, nothing is set in stone right now,” Bendik added. “If we are able to bring him in, we’ll have another top-class player and a top-class goalkeeper. I can only be excited about the experience that it will bring.”