One of Canadian soccer’s brightest young prospects is set to take his first step towards a professional career in Europe.
Midfielder Keven Aleman, a former member of Toronto FC’s academy, is currently in Spain where he has rejoined the youth team of second division club Real Valladolid after finally receiving his visa. Aleman, who turns 18 next month, had been trying to secure a visa for several months, and was unable to play for the Spanish outfit’s youth side until the situation was resolved.
In the interim, Aleman had been weighing his options, and if he didn’t get the visa there was a chance he could have signed with the Vancouver Whitecaps, who own his MLS rights. But the Canadian had his heart set on Valladolid, having previously trained with the team, and now that he has the visa, he can pursue a career in one of European soccer’s hotbeds.
“He is very excited and we are also happy that he will have the opportunity to prove his worth,” Courtney James, Aleman’s agent, confirmed in an e-mail to sportsnet.ca on Monday.
Born in Costa Rica, Aleman first made a name for himself at the CONCACAF U-17 championships last February when he scored three goals and helped Canada win the silver medal. As a result, Canada qualified for FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico later that summer, but bowed out in the first round after failing to win any of its three games.
Before travelling to the World Cup, Aleman, from Brampton, Ont., was released by Toronto FC (he was a member of the team's junior academy squad) last May after the MLS club said he declined to sign a letter of commitment.
Aleman maintained he didn't sign the letter because he wanted to wait until returning home from Mexico before making a decision about his future. The attacking midfielder’s career status has remained up in the air ever since.
Even though he had been on trial in Spain and had interest from clubs there, Aleman’s MLS rights were acquired by the Vancouver Whitecaps as part of the Terry Dunfield trade with TFC last year -- the Reds still retained his MLS rights after releasing him from their youth academy.
Now that his visa situation has been settled, Aleman will get a chance to prove what he can do in Spain.
Valladolid currently sits in second place in the second division, and looks a good bet to be promoted to the topflight by season’s end. Valladolid last competed in La Liga during the 2009-10 campaign.
While it’s a bit of a loss for the Whitecaps, Valladolid has landed one of Canada’s best youth products and a player with great potential. If Aleman can further develop his skills in Spain and eventually get regular playing time for Valladolid, Canada’s national team would certainly reap the benefits.
“Valladolid could get promoted this year, so Keven could work his way up the ranks from the youth team, to the reserves and into the senior side by next season. This is a good career move for him,” his agent said.