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  • Notes on the DeGuzman thing


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    Yesterday was a landmark day for “It’s Called Football,” the weekly on-line soccer show I do with Duane Rollins and Ben Rycroft on ThatChannel.com.

    Due to some fine, persistent work, Ben R. was able to land us exclusive interviews with Canada coach Stephen Hart and star midfielder Julian DeGuzman.

    [PRBREAK][/PRBREAK]

    Hart generously gave twenty minutes of his time to discussing Canada’s 1-0 win over Jamaica in the Gold Cup opener, and strategic insights for tonight’s pivotal match against El Salvador.

    But the real headlines came right at the end. DeGuzman – soft-spoken, cautious, but generally willing to answer our follow-up questions – confirmed he is mulling over a big offer from Toronto FC.

    Julian, of course, is a more-than-contributing star for Deportivo La Coruna in the Spanish La Liga. He’s been plying his trade in Europe for a dozen years, and is on the hunt for one more long, lucrative foreign deal.

    He’s never hidden the fact he wants to play for TFC – someday. Yesterday, though, you could repeatedly hear in his voice that whatever terms Toronto has offered him, Canada’s lone MLS side has certainly got his attention.

    My own humble digging on the subject has revealed two main plot lines. Insiders tell me DeGuzman has been offered anything from $1-million for the rest of this season, up to $10-million over three years. This, of course, takes advantage of MLS’s “designated player” rule, which allows ownership groups to bust the bank on one player.

    Julian was never specific, but the unanimous impression left with all of us is that TFC’s current offer is shorter – we’re guessing the rest of this year with an option for 2010 – and worth a heck of a lot more than $1-million. Heck, DeGuzman almost gasped at one point. This is a guy who’s no stranger to healthy soccer contracts.

    However …

    It’s also quite clear DeGuzman has more than one offer from Europe, and is very likely to stay there for now. Again, we had to gently guide him a bit, but he did eventually say Toronto is a club he’d love to play for, but it will almost certainly be in the future. The contract after this one, in other words.

    I then got cheeky, and asked if he and his brilliantly skilled brother Jonathan might line up side-by-side for TFC in 2013. He smiled, and said they would both love to finish their careers in Toronto.

    Jonathan’s a bit of a sore point with some fans, of course, because of last year’s decision to play his international football for the Netherlands, instead of Canada. But those fans don’t speak for all the fans. Many – myself included – have no gripe with the younger De Guzman’s decision.

    … But that’s an argument I’ll fight and lose another day.

    Julian DeGuzman signed off, telling us he will make a decision on his next team within a week.

    The story has since roared off across the internet, with Soccer By Ives reporting that TFC veteran fan favourite Carl Robinson is being shopped around the league, and would likely be released if DeGuzman were signed.

    I just want to be clear that part of the story did not come from us. With the transfer window about to open, I’m sure a third of the players in MLS are being shopped in one way or another. I firmly believe DeGuzman is staying in Europe, and there is no reason to start firing trade rumours over Robinson’s bough.

    Barring injury, I feel certain we will one day see DeGuzman – maybe both DeGuzmans! – in Toronto FC red and gray.

    But not now.

    Regardless, it’s certainly good to know TFC owners Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment are ready to pay out real money for a legitimate international star. That alone ought to quell some of the fan grumbling – much of which was fuelled by a nasty combination of bad results and worse information.

    Enjoy the show.

    Onward!



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