Toronto FC, defender Gregory van der Wiel officially split up


Gregory van der Wiel had four assists in 34 appearances for Toronto FC in his one and only season with the squad last year. (Christopher Katsarov / CP)

Toronto FC has severed ties with Gregory van der Wiel, paying the veteran Dutch defender to go away.

The two sides had been at odds since a training camp bust-up between the 31-year-old player and coach Greg Vanney. Van der Wiel has been a man without a club since, training on his own and taking no part in TFC action.

The MLS club announced the decision in a three-paragraph release Friday, saying it was by mutual consent. Translated that means a mutually agreed payout to leave.

Van der Wiel made US$835,000 last season according to the MLS Players Association. That was sixth-highest on the team, although his salary cap hit was reduced by the use of targeted allocation money.

With van der Wiel’s contract guaranteed for the season, the two sides agreed on a payout. Van der Wiel gets a chance to relaunch his career outside MLS. Toronto gets his roster and international spot back.

But it will take a salary cap hit on the buyout.

"We explored options to move forward and after much discussion we mutually agreed that this is the best resolution for both Toronto FC and for Gregory," Toronto FC general manager Ali Curtis said in a boiler-plate statement.

It’s a far cry from his welcome in February 2018.

"He’s a winner," said then-GM Tim Bezbatchenko, talking up his 46 caps and 2010 World Cup final experience.

In an Instagram post after being sent home from training camp, van der Wiel blamed "difference with the coaching staff" for his split with the team.

Van der Wiel said he thought he had found a place he could call home.

After playing for Ajax and Paris Saint-Germain, van der Wiel had been unhappy in stints with Turkey’s Fenerbahce and Italy’s Cagliari prior to signing with Toronto last February.

"Year One had ups and downs but I found my joy back and I could not wait to get started this new season," van der Wiel wrote. "I was ready to give it all.

"Unfortunately Year Two will never come due to differences with the coaching staff. I just want to win and do that no matter what the consequences are. I guess that mentality was a little too much for them and they decided they do not need me for this season. Teammates and fans, I will miss you guys. All the best."

Van der Wiel had four assists in 34 appearances for TFC in his one and only season with the squad last year.

Injuries forced Vanney to play him across the backline.

Van der Wiel’s departure leaves Toronto’s roster at 26, including new designated player Alejandro Pozuelo of Spain, who was slated to arrive Friday. The club has gone with 28 players in recent times.

The Dutch defender leaves with more baggage then when he came. MLS joins Turkey and Italy as places that did not work out for him.

In Toronto colours, Van der Wiel offered an uneven performance, either spraying passes to teammates or opponents. The laid-back Dutch man, while always cordial with the media, was unable to settle in with the team.

Off the field, he added some glamour to the MLS club. A stylish dresser with an array of tattoos, he proudly posted social media updates of his partner, a Belgian model, and their daughter.

Van der Wiel has 851,000 followers on Instagram. TFC has 180,000.

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.