In what is another major move by Toronto FC, the Reds will soon be adding Brazilian goalkeeper Julio Cesar to their roster.
Sources told Sportsnet on Friday that TFC has worked out a loan deal with English Championship side Queens Park Rangers for Cesar, who is expected to officially join the Major League Soccer club next week.
Sportsnet contacted Toronto FC for confirmation, but a club official declined to comment. News of Cesar joining TFC was first reported by Brazilian media outlet O Globo.
Cesar, 34, was QPR’s starting goalkeeper last season in the Premier League, but has struggled for playing time in the current Championship campaign, as Hoops manager Harry Redknapp has preferred Robert Green—the Englishman has started all 28 league games for QPR, while Cesar has seen action in one FA Cup match.
Cesar has earned 77 caps for Brazil, and started all five games for his country on home soil last summer as the Seleção won the FIFA Confederations Cup. A move to Toronto will allow Cesar to play first team soccer, allowing him to stay sharp and match fit ahead of this summer’s FIFA World Cup to be staged in Brazil.
The former Inter Milan’s arrival in Toronto is somewhat curious, especially after coach Ryan Nelsen, a former teammate of Cesar’s at QPR, heralded the play of Joe Bendik last season.
Bendik won the starter’s job away from Stefan Frei, and was one of the few bright spots on a TFC side that finished the 2013 MLS campaign with a 6-17-11 record and failed to qualify for the playoffs for a seventh consecutive year. Bendik earned a modest $46,500 US last year, and was subsequently rewarded with an improved contract on the strength of his solid season with the Reds.
With Cesar in town, Bendik will likely serve as the team’s backup goalkeeper, with Chris Konopka dropping down to number three. What this means for current third-stringer Quillan Roberts is unclear—one option might be loaning the young, Canadian goalkeeper to the Reds’ USL affiliate, the Wilmington Hammerheads.
Cesar joins fellow Brazilians Gilberto and Jackson at TFC, both signed by the team in the off-season. He’s also the latest in the number of marquee players the club has added ahead of the 2014 MLS campaign, including the aforementioned Gilberto, English forward Jermain Defoe and American midfielder Michael Bradley.