MLS Moves: TFC goes with TAM to sign ex-Barca midfielder

In the wake of reaching its first MLS Cup final last December, Toronto FC hasn’t done a lot this offseason, but on Monday came word of a significant signing.

TFC has used Targeted Allocation Money to sign Victor Vazquez, a product of the Barcelona academy who comes to MLS from Cruz Azul, for which he scored one goal and registered one assist in 23 appearances. Prior to his stint in Mexico, Vazquez, 30, played five seasons (2011-16) for Club Brugge, for which he scored 25 goals and logged 50 assists in 173 appearances.

“We are excited to bring Victor Vazquez to Toronto FC and provide our team with another experienced midfielder,” said TFC general manager Tim Bezbatchenko in a statement. “Victor developed in the Barcelona youth system which is recognized worldwide. He is a creative player with experience playing in an attacking midfield role, but also centrally, which gives us flexibility in our system.”

The Barcelona native joined his hometown club in 1997 and made his only La Liga appearance for its senior team in 2008. He scored one goal in two Champions’ League matches. At Club Brugge he won a Belgian Cup and by helping it finish second in the 2014-15 Juliper League season he was named the Professional Footballer of the Year in that country.

Vazquez hasn’t played for Cruz Azul since October and according to TFC did not pay a transfer fee to acquire him. The site cited a transfer fee of 1.7 million pounds ($2.1 million) was paid by Cruz Azul to acquire him in January of last year.

TFC is at the limit of three Designated Players – Jozy Alidore, Michael Bradley, Sebastian Giovinco – so it must use either general allocation money or targeted allocation money to buy down the salary-budget charge of a player who will earn more than the DP threshold of $480,625 in 2017. TAM was adopted by the league in 2015 as an incentive for teams to sign players at deals worth between $500,000 and $1 million per year.  It cannot be used on deals worth less than the DP threshold.

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