Carl Robinson did nothing to dispel rumours that the Vancouver Whitecaps are keen to bring Canadian international Atiba Hutchinson to Major League Soccer.
The Whitecaps’ head coach was asked Tuesday about a report coming out of Turkey that the club and MLS have combined on a US$5-million bid for the 34-year-old Besiktas midfielder.
“I read that yesterday,” Robinson responded coyly after Vancouver’s training session.
“Someone texted me and asked me. I said, ‘Maybe they are without my knowledge.’ Atiba’s a good player, we know that. Again, he’s under contract to Besiktas.
“Has there been a conversation? Yeah, of course. There’s a conversation about a lot of players, but out of respect to him and their club, that’s all there is at the moment.”
The Whitecaps are believed to have had the Brampton, Ont., native on their radar for awhile, and it’s not surprising rumours resurfaced with the MLS transfer window set to open July 10.
Hutchinson, who has played 77 times for Canada, would be a massive addition to any squad in the league. One of the best players Canada has ever produced, he’s been a standout for clubs in Europe and Turkey, but has received very little fanfare back home.
Known for his ability to control the game from the centre of the pitch, Hutchinson led the Turkish league with both a 94.8 per cent passing rate and an average of 69.4 passes per game this season.
Vancouver, which visits expansion Minnesota United on Saturday, is 6-6-2 so far in 2017, good for fifth in the Western Conference, but sits near the bottom of MLS with a passing success rate of just 73.6 per cent.
Hutchinson wasn’t named to Canada’s provisional 40-man roster for the CONCACAF Gold Cup earlier this month as he rests a quad injury after completing the Turkish season.
MLS commissioner Don Garber said in February that the league was willing to work with its three teams north of the border to help bring in Canadian designated players.
A move to acquire Hutchinson, who will be 35 in February, would also signal a shift in philosophy for the Whitecaps to a win-now mode with an expensive, but aging star.
Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press