Published: July 1, 8:37 p.m. ET
Updated: July 2, 10:06 a.m. ET
Just before the Terry Dunfield era kicked off at BMO Field, Toronto FC president Bill Manning addressed an era that just ended on Friday but may still have another chapter.
Manning told TSN play-by-play voice Luke Wileman in a pre-match interview that TFC were in fact in discussions to bring Richie Laryea back to the club.
“We’re working on it,” Manning admitted when asked at the end of a five-minute interview about the star Canadian right-back. “Jason [Hernandez] was on the line with him today. [Laryea] called me last night. We’re in active discussion.”
Josh Kloke of The Athletic tweeted Friday, the day Laryea’s loan deal expired, that TFC had not engaged in serious talks to extend Laryea’s one-year loan from Premier League relegation battle survivors Nottingham Forest. Laryea is once again a Forest player, although the Premier League club don’t seem to have him in their plans ahead of their second season in the top flight.
“It’s not totally up to us now, he’s with another club,” Manning explained to Wileman. “We’re trying to work it through with a deal that makes sense [with our salary cap]. And then we have to respect Nottingham and what they want to do.”
There’s no denying that TFC are in a complicated financial situation. With the highest payroll in MLS and the second-worst record in the Eastern Conference, owners MLSE may be unwilling to write new cheques for an expensive team that has not met expectations.
As reported in the MLSPA’s semi-annual Players Salary Guide, Laryea is on $1,276,745 this season. That’s a lot of money for a club that is paying Lorenzo Insigne $7.5 million, Federico Bernardeschi nearly $6.3 million, and Jonathan Osorio $1.4 million as TFC’s third Designated Player.
“It’s complicated but I can tell you it’s a lively discussion right now [for Laryea] and within the next 48-72 hours hopefully we can pull something off or else, that’ll open up a slot that we need to make sure we [fill] with the right player because Richie is a fantastic player and a fantastic human being,” Manning said.
Replacing Laryea’s production will not be easy. He has been one of TFC’s best players in an otherwise very disappointing year. Currently on duty with Canada at the CONCACAF Gold Cup, Laryea started and was substituted in stoppage time in Tuesday night’s 2-2 draw with Guadeloupe at BMO Field and played the full 90 minutes in the stalemate against Guatemala on Saturday night in Houston.
If recent rumours swirling around Laryea’s future are to be believed, the Canadian could join Cyle Larin in Spain, lighting up the revered pitches of La Liga next season. Laryea finds himself at a career crossroads, contemplating his European options, and personal ambitions, and now entertaining interest from the prestigious Spanish league in the middle of a complicated MLS season at his hometown club.
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