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Orlando City Signs Peruvian Defender/Midfielder Yoshimar Yotún

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Lions add versatile Peru international from Swedish club Malmo FF.

Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

After making a big splash by bringing in Dom Dwyer, Orlando City is bringing in a new Designated Player. The Lions have signed Peru international Yoshimar Yotún, a versatile player who can slot in at left back, left wing, or defensive midfield, from defending Swedish league champion Malmo FF as a DP on a multi-year deal. Paul Tenorio at FourFourTwo broke the news via Twitter.

The move is pending receipt of Yotún’s P-1 visa and International Transfer Certificate. Giles Barnes will be bought down below DP level to open the slot for Yotún, who will wear No. 19.

“We were actively looking to add depth in the midfield during this transfer window and are excited to sign Yoshi,” Orlando City General Manager Niki Budalic said in a club release. “Yoshi can play as a creative midfielder who can operate both wide and centrally, as well as cover as an attacking left back. He stands out for his passing and creative ability, as well as his versatility to play multiple positions. He is a great fit for our long-term plans and someone we’ve tracked since last year. We are pleased to have finally acquired him.”

History

Yotún has scored two goals and three assists in 14 league appearances with Malmo FF in 2017, according to WhoScored.com. In 72 overall appearances with Malmo, including 10 UEFA Champions League matches, Yoshi tallied three goals and 15 assists, and helped Malmö win the 2016 Allsvenskan championship.

In addition, he has two goals and seven assists in 64 caps with Peru.

Yotún began his career with Peruvian side Sporting Cristal Lima in 2008, making 155 overall appearances, including two in the 2014 Copa Libertadores against Orlando City’s Brazilian partner club, Clube Atlético Paranaense, and notched nine goals and 12 assists. In 2012 and 2014, Yotún won the Primera División del Perú championship and was named the league’s Fullback of the Year. In 2012, he was selected by journalists to Uruguayan newspaper El País’ Equipo Ideal de América, the Americas’ best XI, along with the likes of Ronaldinho and Neymar.

He also made 28 appearances and scored three goals with Peru top flight side José Galvez FBC in 2008 and 31 appearances with Brazilian Serie A side CR Vasco da Gama in 2013, both on loan.

“We spent a lot of time before and during the transfer window looking at players around the world and Yoshi stuck out to us,” CEO Alex Leitão said in the club’s release. “His wealth of experience from the highest levels of club and international soccer will be an important asset to our team in our push for the playoffs.”

Style of Play / Fit with Orlando City

The 27-year-old can play a variety of positions for Head Coach Jason Kreis, who will want to make use of the Peruvian’s ball-winning, possession and passing skills.

I’ve seen folks who think Yotún will serve as Kreis’ Orlando version of Kyle Beckerman, but that probably belies the Lima, Peru native’s ball skills a bit. He can be both that midfield destroyer type of player but also someone who can connect passes between the back line and strike force. He can get up the left side and provide service from the left back or left wing spots and can fit in either the flat 4-4-2 or the diamond.

The question becomes: who will depart the starting lineup? If the 4-4-2 stays — and there’s no reason to think it won’t — it appears the odd man out would be Antonio Nocerino. It would have to be one of the three current defensive midfielders — Nocerino, Cristian Higuita, or Will Johnson. It is unlikely to be Johnson, who can provide both leadership and occasional offense. My guess is that Higuita stays in the lineup for his ball-winning attributes while Nocerino goes to the substitute’s bench but it all comes down to team chemistry and fit, really.

Why You Should Like the Move

Yotún is a talented player who can slot into several positions. He’s adept at drawing fouls but also can break up the opposing team’s play in the middle of the pitch. He can take set pieces, looks for through balls, and seeks out opportunities to join the attack.

He’s the kind of player that should help link play from back to front, which will help with service to Cyle Larin and Dom Dwyer.

Why You Shouldn’t Like the Move

With Yotún’s versatility, it might take a little experimenting to see where he fits best with the Lions’ current personnel, even if Kreis and Budalic have a position already in mind. Will he have a defined role that enables him to get comfortable and consistent? Or, will he take Donny Toia’s left back spot some games and slot into the midfield in others? The club’s quotes indicate they see him as a means of bolstering the attack. Coming in from Sweden, and having played in Peru, it’s always a variable with a new player on how quickly he will acclimatize to Major League Soccer and life in the United States.

What do you think of the signing? Will Yotún be the final piece of the puzzle? Is Orlando City done shopping with five days left in the transfer window? Or, is there more business to come?

I leave you with a look at what the Peruvian can do with his left foot: