Central defense is one of the urging needs that Orlando City SC has to address during this off-season. For weeks, it has been said that the club was working hard on the transfer market to sign an elite center back in order to bolster its back line for 2017. However, nothing really exciting has happened on this front so far.
Almost three weeks ago, Frenchmen Grégory Sertic, currently with Ligue 1 side FC Girondins de Bordeaux, was speculated to be the Lions’ target and a deal seemed imminent at that point. After the player denied on Twitter having been approached by the club, though, the talks seem to have cooled and his name was never mentioned again.
If Sertic indeed is not coming, Orlando City should look at different options in the market. With José Aja, Tommy Redding, David Mateos, Seb Hines and Generation Adidas Conor Donovan available for the CB position, the Lions definitely need to add a starting-caliber player to perform better in the defensive end in the upcoming Major League Soccer season.
Here are a few potential “Plan B” options:
Belgium has a history of developing great defenders — including Montreal Impact’s Laurent Ciman and LA Galaxy’s Jelle van Damme — and it could be a good place for Orlando City to look for one. A talented Belgian CB that seems to be available is Dedryck Boyata.
The 6-foot-2 defender is capable of playing either as a CB or a right back and is out of favor with head coach Brendan Rogers at Scottish powerhouse Celtic, having started just one match this season. At the age of 26, he is believed to be open to a move and Belgian side Anderlecht is one possible destination, according to a recent report by The Scottish Sun.
With his transfer value around £1.5 million, Boyata could be an intriguing option for the Lions. He has played for the Belgian National Team since 2010 and was developed in Manchester City’s academy, where he was voted the Young Player of the Year in 2009-2010.
A mainstay with the Chilean National Team, Gonzalo Jara has a huge amount of international experience under his belt. A regular with the South American team for a decade, he was a starter for them in the last two World Cups and helped the Chileans to triumph at Copa America Centenario last year.
Despite his short stature, at 5-foot-10, the 31-year-old is very tough and succeeded against some of the top South American forwards over the course of his international career. He is also versatile, being able to play as a RB or a defensive midfielder as well, and is a good distributor out of the back.
Jara built most of his career in Europe, playing for English sides West Bromwich Albion, Brighton & Hove Albion, and Nottingham Forest, and Germany’s Mainz 05. He returned home to play for Universidad de Chile last year, but could be lured to move overseas again if the right offer is presented, especially because he has been under heavy criticism because of the club’s bad start this season.
Considering Orlando City’s owners and front office, a Brazilian option should never be discarded. Then, why not long-time SL Benfica captain Luisão? At the age of 35, he has been with the Eagles for 13 years and could be looking for a new place to approach his farewell.
Luisão is a legend within the Portuguese club and recently became Benfica’s longest-serving captain. He won 17 major titles with the Portuguese side and played almost 500 matches in the red uniform. The 6-foot-5 defender also has good international experience, having played in both the 2006 and 2010 World Cups with the Brazilian National Team.
Because of his age, Luisão can only be seen as a short-term solution for Orlando City, but his physical presence, experience, and laid back attitude could be extremely beneficial for the Lions if he was signed.
Do you like any of these players? Have different options in mind? Let us know in the comments!