The 24-year-old attacker joins TFC as a designated player after a banner year in which he scored 14 goals in the Brasileirão.Toronto FC's offseason puzzle has fallen into place.
The club announced Thursday that it had signed Gilberto Oliveira Souza Junior to a designated player contract, after it had agreed to transfer terms with Internacional of the Brazilian top flight. Financial details of the transfer were not provided by the teams, but reports out of Brazil estimate the cost to TFC at around $3 million (USD).
“Gilberto is a great DP addition to our roster," TFC general manager Tim Bezbatchenko said in a statement. "He’s young, incredibly talented and a proven goal scorer at every level he’s played. The Brazilian Serie A is one of the best leagues in the world and acquiring a top striker from that league is a testament to the faith Gilberto has in what we are doing at our club.”
The 24-year-old striker -- known simply as "Gilberto" -- had spent most of the past season on loan to Portuguesa, where he had a breakout season with 14 goals in 24 matches. He ended 2013 as the sixth-leading goalscorer in the Brasileirão.
According to Bezbatchenko, Gilberto's success with Portuguesa led to interest from clubs in Europe and Mexico. The Brazilian ultimately decided on Toronto as the next stop of his career.
“I am very excited to join Toronto FC and MLS," Gilberto said. "There is a lot of opportunity here, both with this side and the league and I am excited to help grow Major League Soccer with my fellow Brazilians back home.
"This is a great city with a great quality of life and I look forward to winning titles here.”
Gilberto becomes Toronto's second current designated player, with Argentine midfielder Matias Laba occupying another DP spot. TFC has been open in its attempt to start the 2014 campaign with three DPs, the maximum allowed under league rules. The club is reportedly courting Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe for a big-money switch ahead of its season opener in March.