REPORT: 2022 CPL Golden Boot winner Alejandro Diáz set to join Vancouver FC on loan
After acquiring Mikaël Cantave last week, Vancouver FC are not done revamping their attack quite yet, as they’re set to acquire former Pacific FC forward Alejandro Diáz from Norwegian club Sogndal on loan, the Norweigan club announced on Friday.
For a Vancouver team sitting last in the league in goals, it’s a huge coup for the expansion side, as Diáz won the 2022 CPL Golden Boot with 13 goals, despite only playing 18 games as he joined Sogndal in August.
A proven CPL goalscorer, one who sits third all-time with 26 goals, his return comes at a perfect time for the new club, too, as they desperately need scoring from sources other than Shaan Hundal, who has scored six of the team’s 11 goals this season.
GOAL 🔱🔱🔱🔱— OneSoccer (@onesoccer) August 27, 2021
The makings of an INSTANT CLASSIC as @Pacificfccpl get a FOURTH against @WhitecapsFC in their first-ever meeting!
It's 4-2 with 15 minutes to go!#CanChamp | #CanPL | #VWFC | 🔴 https://t.co/hishXepRT3 pic.twitter.com/ytr8pAINMN
Plus, the 27-year-old Diáz returns to the CPL eager to hit the restart button, too, after a mixed stint in Norway.
He got off to a great start with Sogndal last season, scoring six goals and adding three assists in 11 games, but things didn’t go exactly as planned for the second-tier Norwegian club, as they missed out on the promotion playoffs by three points.
As a result, instead of being able to make the jump up to the Norwegian top flight as hoped, he was left to stick around in the second division, where the goal was to try for promotion again in 2023.
That hasn’t gone as planned, however, as Diáz struggled to start the season. As a result, he only featured in 452 minutes across 10 games in all competitions so far this year, and failed to find the net.
Because of that, this move won’t just serve as a chance for Vancouver to acquire an experienced goalscorer, but for Diáz to also refind the form that made him a sought-after commodity last year when he earned that six-figure move to Norway.
Now, the big question for Vancouver will be to figure out how to best configure their new-look attack. Preferring to play a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3 formation with just one striker, they’ll now have to either shift one of Diáz or Hundal out wide or deeper on the pitch, should they try to play both.
If not, a switch to a 4-4-2 or 4-2-2-2 could make a lot of sense, with Hundal and Diáz leading the line, supported by the likes of Cantave, Gabriel Bitar and TJ Tahid underneath them.
Plus, it appears that Hundal and Diáz would complement each other quite nicely, as well. Diáz has always been known as being a great poacher in the box, but he also had eight primary assists across his time in the CPL, and was always comfortable dropping into deeper positions to help Pacific in their build-up play.
Not only that, but he also filled in at the #10 position whenever there were injuries, too, and even dropped as deep as the #8, as he’s very comfortable on the ball and playing between the lines.
As a result, he’d appear to be a perfect partner for Hundal, who loves to run the channels and get in behind defenders, while also being comfortable with his back-to-goal, as Diáz could sit underneath him and link up from deeper areas.
For a Vancouver team that has struggled to link their midfield to the attack on the ball all season, Diáz would be expected to provide a big boost there, along with his goalscoring.
Therefore, it’s no doubt that this is a good move for Vancouver, who are continuing to bolster their lineup ahead of a second-half playoff push. Despite a mixed start to the year, as they sit in last place with just 10 points, they remain just six points off the last playoff spot, and play everyone else in the league twice.
And with the arrivals of Cantave and Diáz, as well as the eventual return of Kadin Chung from injury, that’ll be a huge injection of quality and CPL experience that this young team desperately needs. A talented but young team, they’ve shown their ability to hang with anyone in this league on both sides of the ball, but have lacked experience in key moments, something that these recent moves should change.
Now, all that’s left is for the transfer to be officially announced. The move is all but finalized, as it was already registered in Norway's official transfer portal, and with the CPL’s summer transfer window now open as of July 5th, Vancouver should announce the move at any moment now.