TORONTO – Instability has its consequences.
For Toronto FC, those costs have been mounting all season long. And reports that Ager Aketxe would be returning to Spain in the Secondary Transfer Window look to have the recent TAM acquisition become the second player to depart the club in recent weeks.
Earlier today, MLSsoccer.com's Sam Stejskal reported that TFC were working to send Aketxe to Cadiz CF in Spain's second division.
Speaking on Tuesday afternoon, Greg Vanney refused to entertain the rumors, saying “he's still on the team,” and explaining Aketxe's absence from TFC's recent two-match road trip as “my decision.”
Aketxe's signing was announced on February 23, days after the Concacaf Champions League campaign began in Colorado, joining Gregory van der Wiel and Auro Jr as reinforcements to the MLS Cup champions. But where the other two were more “direct needs” and settled in nicely, Aketxe's integration has proved more difficult.
“When he arrived, we were trying to keep as much consistency from the group last year: guys who understood their roles, had relationships, knew what we were trying to do,” Vanney said. “He wasn't in the mix right off. It was about bringing him on slowly.”
Toronto tried to do so through league play. Aketxe appeared in the Reds’ first nine matches, though rarely with the first-choice XI.
“The hard part was we had a lot of guys in different places,” Vanney said. “Then we go into a situation where we are decimated, so we're making up lineups. We went from being this unbelievable machine to just trying to put the pieces together. It's not a settling situation for a young player.”
Since then, Aketxe has made just two further appearances, part coach's decision, part injury. Still, Vanney was adamant: “He's a talented young player.”
If the move comes to fruition, Aketxe would be the second player to leave in recent weeks after Mariano Mino was waived on June 30.
Will TFC be active in the Secondary Transfer Window?
“I wouldn't rule it out,” Vanney said. “I don't think anything is imminent. It's important that in every window we look to improve our team and move forward.”
A large dollop of the instability involves the revolving player availability that TFC have endured. However, there were a pair of positive updates.
Victor Vazquez, who has missed Toronto's last three matches with knee trouble, looks set to return.
“He is making progress,” said Vanney. “The key was to get the swelling out, so he had full range of motion and [was] pain free. He'll be back into training tomorrow.”
And Jozy Altidore, who has not played in MLS since March 30, has his boots on and was doing field work with the ball, but has not yet rejoined full training.
“This weekend seems a bit touchy,” cautioned Vanney, hesitant to commit to a firm timeline. “From there, everything is open and possible. It's going to be a matter of how he progresses.”