TORONTO — Even though it can't officially welcome him to the team, it appears that Toronto FC is ready to accept Brazilian national team goalkeeper Julio Cesar with open arms.
Amid numerous reports that the 34-year-old is set to join TFC from English side Queens Park Rangers on a short-term loan, the team's technical staff showed measured excitement at a media event Tuesday.
"I haven't spoken to Julio for a couple of days so I don't know, that'd be something really nice," said TFC coach Ryan Nelsen, a teammate of Cesar at QPR last year. "I think it'd be really nice for the Toronto community, all the fans and that, to have a player of his skill and expertise and experience. He's won everything.
"It would be fantastic for the city if something like that happened."
Nelsen was quick to reiterate that an agreement for the expensive QPR netminder was not completed, although sources tell Goal Canada it is a done deal. However, the Kiwi coach detailed at length what a player of Cesar's caliber would bring to a rebuilding side like TFC.
"I can't really comment because nothing's finalized really, but going on my experience of playing with Julio, what I know about him is he's a gentleman of a man, he's a quality guy," Nelsen said. "His character's flawless, he's great around the locker room, and then when you see him at work there's a reason why he's played nearly 80 times for Brazil and he's won everything in the game.
"I can stay here and say all of that stuff about [Cesar's professionalism], but once you see it first hand, then it will do it proper justice. And that's why I'm kind of excited if something did eventuate, for all the fans of Toronto, for all you guys, to be able to have a current Brazilian national team player about to go to the World Cup is something special for the club and for the city, in my opinion."
"I can't comment on that right now," Bezbatchenko said, "but when something happens, if it happens, I'll let you guys know."
In contrast to the more calculated responses from the bosses were the TFC players' views on Cesar's imminent arrival, which reflected a growing positivity around all facets of the long-beleaguered club.
"Growing up, I've been a fan," said striker Gilberto, himself a recent addition to Toronto from Brazilian side Portuguesa, via a translator. "I almost had the opportunity to play with Ronaldo, but now I'm going to play with another legend and I'm looking forward to that."
Midfielder Michael Bradley echoed his teammate's sentiments, stating that the addition of Brazil's No. 1 will further fuel other MLS teams' desire to knock off the new rich kids on the block.
"It speaks volumes for the direction that this club is going," Bradley said. "A week ago, if anybody had told us that now there'd be a guy like Julio Cesar coming in, I think nobody would have believed him. And now to hopefully see him walk in through the door in the next few days ... I think it's something that raises the profile of our team and the club, and the league even more.
"Certainly it puts the target on our backs even a little bit more than it already was."
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