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Toronto FC’s Jonathan Osorio attracting interest as contract ticks down

Toronto FC midfielder Jonathan Osorio is yet to agree a new contract as his current deal enters its final months. (Tom Szczerbowski/USA TODAY Sports)

TORONTO — The future of Toronto FC midfielder Jonathan Osorio remains undecided with less than six months to run on his contract, according to Reds general manager Tim Bezbatchenko.

Osorio is up for renewal at the end of the year. While the likes of Alex Bono and Victor Vázquez have signed extensions since the start of the season, the Osorio’s situation has lingered. The Canadian midfielder has put up a career year in the meantime, leading Toronto with 10 goals in 25 games between MLS and the Concacaf Champions League.

Bezbatchenko said he speaks regularly with Osorio’s representative, but did say dealing the 26-year-old before he becomes a free agent remains an option.

“We’ve been talking terms,” the GM explained. “We’re talking just what Jonathan means to the club, both from his perspective and our perspective. I think he’s a very unique player, because he’s one of the first guys who’s sort of homegrown from this market and is committed to the club. He used to sit, as he always says, in the supporters’ section. He brings other things to the table and so we want to make sure that we value that and make sure that he’s valued.

“All of these things are in the conversation, are in play, and we’re talking. But there are a lot of clubs that are interested in him, both south and over in Europe. We want to make sure that he feels like he’s just respected, right? In either direction, whether or not he doesn’t accept an offer or we decide not to get where he needs to go — whatever it is. I want to make sure that he’s respected for the player that he is.”

Osorio can expect a significant increase to his current salary of just over $200,000 a season, and that may serve to make talks with TFC more complicated. The Reds would likely need to use targeted allocation money (TAM) to pay a new deal below MLS’ maximum salary.

Related to that situation, is the future of fellow midfielder Ager Aketxe, who has joined Spanish club Cádiz on loan until the end of the season. Aketxe earns nearly $1.3 million per year and claims a significant chunk of TFC’s TAM allowance as a result. Cádiz has eased that burden by taking on a “large portion” of Aketxe’s salary for the duration of his loan, Bezbatchenko said, before a permanent decision is made on his status in the winter.

“This was an opportunity for [Aketxe] to kind of find his game again, go someplace that he knows, but also to give us the flexibility to do something for the summer,” Bezbatchenko added. “Come December, we’ll sit down with Cádiz and with the player and discuss if this is something both parties want, to bring him back.

“In terms of how we fit with our style of play and things that we were looking for, it just never really clicked. Sometimes, given our season, you can’t really wait for it to click, right? If everything else was going OK, in terms of we’re at where we expect ourselves to be, I think maybe the situation is different. But, I think the player wasn’t extremely happy in terms of his contribution to the team — including his own assessment of his play — and so we felt like, at least for the time being… we saw eye-to-eye and we said, ‘Let’s go our separate ways for the time being.'”

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