Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Toronto FC Signs Dutch International Defender Gregory Van der Wiel

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Toronto FC Signs Dutch International Defender Gregory Van der Wiel

Article excerpt

Toronto FC signs Dutch international defender

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TORONTO - MLS champion Toronto FC has strengthened its right side by signing Dutch international defender Gregory van der Wiel from Italy's Cagliari.

The 29-year-old excelled at Ajax and Paris Saint-Germain, but has seen limited action since moving to Turkey's Fenerbahce in 2016 and Cagliari in 2017.

Van der Wiel fills a void left by the free-agent departure of Steven Beitashour to Los Angeles FC, although Toronto does have Liechtenstein international Nico Hasler. Toronto also lost wingback Raheem Edwards, now with Montreal, during the off-season.

After six months with a "smaller team" in Italy, van der Wiel said he was happy to be with a Toronto team that is always looking to add to its trophy case -- like Ajax and PSG.

"I learned this about myself that I really need to be around winners and people who have the same mentality as me and want to win with a high goal," he said in an interview on the club Twitter feed. "That's why I'm also happy to be joining this winning team. They won last year, they know how it is to win and they want to win every day again. I think that fits perfect for me."

Van der Wiel has earned 46 caps for the Netherlands, starting for the Dutch team that finished runner-up to Spain in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. He was also part of the Dutch Euro 2012 squad.

"We are excited to bring Gregory van der Wiel to Toronto FC. He is an experienced player that has played with some big clubs in Europe and has represented his country at multiple international tournaments," Toronto GM Tim Bezbatchenko said in a statement Thursday.

"Gregory has a great defensive sense and will provide an upside on the ball with his strong distribution when in the attacking third. He will be a welcomed addition to our club as we continue to strive to improve as a team."

Van der Wiel was acquired with targeted allocated money, funds designed to help MLS teams acquire or reduce the salary cap hit of elite players.

Toronto's interest in Van der Wiel was no secret and the player has not exactly been hiding in recent days.

He and girlfriend Rose Bertram, a Belgian model, were courtside at the Raptors' game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday. …

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