According to a report by GloboEsporte.com, Brazilian forward/attacking midfielder Julio Baptista is set to join Orlando City in the coming days, pending approval of his contract by the Major League Soccer front office.
Baptista was spotted training with Orlando City earlier this month, a stint that was only noted as him being a “guest player” with the club. The 34-year-old has been out of contract since December, when Cruzeiro Esporte Club in Brazil decided not to renew his contract.
Good friends with Kaká, the forward has 48 appearances for the Brazilian national team, and his career has included stints at big clubs such as Arsenal, Real Madrid, and São Paulo, where he and Kaká also played together in their youth club days.
The Lions have been in need of a veteran forward to play off the bench behind Cyle Larin for some time, and at the right price Baptista could potentially be a good fit to fill that vacancy. During his near two-year stint at Cruziero, he scored nine goals in 28 appearance for the club.
The problem for Orlando City, however, is that the club already has 12 international players occupying just 10 international slots on their roster. Head Coach Adrian Heath has already told reporters the club plans to clear two of those international players by sending Bryan Rochez and Devron Garcia to Orlando City B, in USL. But, even then, the Lions would need to clear another international slot to fit Baptista into the roster.
Orlando City could move one of its two high-priced center backs, Aurelien Collin or David Mateos. Mateos has another year on his contract after 2016 and with Collin already in the final year of his contract, the Spanish defender would be more valuable to the club moving forward, especially with Seb Hines winning the starting job.
That could leave Collin, who has not played yet for Orlando City this season after being relegated to the bench, as the odd man out.
Update: Wondering how legit this rumor is? Well, it seems to be pretty solid:
.@OrlandoCitySC‘s Adrian Heath says they are trying to get Julio Baptista but “nothing signed and sealed yet”
— Joe Kepner (@JKepnerWFTV) March 22, 2016
Not signed yet, coach? You sure?
— Kaka (@KAKA) March 22, 2016