When John Herdman was appointed head coach of Toronto FC, some wondered if we might see an influx of fringe CanMNT players at BMO Field. The thing is that the Canadian internationals have to actually want to come.
Transfermarkt expert Manuel Veth reports that Herdman and Toronto FC were keenly interested in signing Wolverhampton Wanderers winger Theo Corbeanu, who has two goals from seven caps for CanMNT and is still only 21 years old.
But Corbeanu wanted to stay in Europe and turned down TFC in order to sign for La Liga strugglers Granada, completing the transfer on Thursday by signing a two-and-a-half-year deal.
Per OneSoccer’s Josh Deming, who first reported the move, the Hamiltonian had loan offers from teams in Spain, Italy, Belgium, and the Netherlands but has chosen a permanent move to Granada. There, he will become the latest Canadian to try his luck in La Liga, following in the footsteps of Cyle Larin’s career path last year.
Corbeanu made just one senior appearance for Wolves, spending time out on loan in the English lower leagues at Sheffield Wednesday, MK Dons, and Blackpool before a stint at German second-division side Arminia Bielefeld last spring and a spell at Swiss club Grasshopper Zurich in the first half of this season.
The 2021 Canada Soccer Youth Player of the Year, who plays most frequently as a winger but can also operate as a central striker, needed a new permanent home to put down roots and find some consistency again. He’s now headed to mainland Europe on a permanent deal for a reported fee of around £750,000 ($1.3 million CAD).
The only danger as he looks for a long-term home is that Granada are currently second-bottom of La Liga, six points adrift of safety, and face an almighty battle to stay in La Liga.
Still, it’s an exciting move for the Canadian, who will have seen the success that Larin has had in his first 12 months in Spain.
Corbeanu will hope that a positive impact at Granada can help him force his way back into the Canada squad. He had been part of CanMNT’s early World Cup preparations in 2022 under former head coach Herdman and said he was confident of being part of the squad that went to Qatar before an ankle injury cruelly ended those hopes.
In 2021, he was a regular on Herdman’s rosters, although he has still played less than two full games worth of action for Les Rouges and has only played one game for his country across the last two calendar years, a substitute appearance in the pre-World Cup friendly with Uruguay in September 2022. He was included in the preliminary squad for the 2023 CONCACAF Gold Cup but did not make the final squad.
Now, he’s the latest CanMNT international to newly join a top-five European league, following in the recent footsteps of the likes of Larin and Tajon Buchanan.
Meanwhile, while Canadian players say “thanks, but no thanks” to TFC’s overtures and other MLS clubs such as CF Montréal make big statement signings, the crickets continue to chirp and the tumbleweed continues to roll down Lakeshore.
Herdman said on Wednesday that he hopes to have new signings arriving soon and hinted that “if we can bring anyone in by the end of the European transfer window, we will.” Hopefully, he wasn’t hanging on to hear back from Corbeanu because that ship has sailed off into Mediterranean waters.