Nicolas Benezet to Colorado Rapids: What it Means for DP Search

Nicolas Benezet
TUKWILA, WA - NOVEMBER 08: Nicolas Benezet #7 of Toronto FC at Starfire Sports Complex on November 08, 2019 in Tukwila, Washington. (Photo by Andy Mead/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – The Colorado Rapids have acquired former Toronto FC winger Nicolas Benezet, the club announced yesterday. Colorado sent $50,000 in General Allocation Money (GAM) to Toronto for his MLS rights with the option to for that to increase to $100,000. Additionally, L’Équipe reported the club paid a €500,000 transfer fee to En Avant de Guingamp to complete the deal.

Nicolas Benezet to Colorado: What it Means

Benezet will be 29-years-old by the opening game of the season. The French International made his professional debut with Nîmes Olympique in 2010. He’s played for several clubs in the French Ligue 1 and Ligue 2. He was with yo-yo club Guingamp prior to being loaned to the Reds last August.

He had a guaranteed compensation of $600,000 last year for the half year and was a TAM player for Toronto. Prorating that to $1.2 million for the full season would put him above the max budget charge but below the TAM threshold. It’s unclear at time of publishing what Benezet’s contract situation will be for 2020.

Position, formation, and tactics:

Benezet played on the left in Toronto. He’s listed as a winger on all profiles on reputable sites. The Rapids press release described him as a winger. The club did the same thing with a previous foreign signing and tactical inflexibility led to a bad result.

Head Coach Robin Fraser’s elaborated on where he wants the team to go tactically. Benezet fit in well in TFC’s mostly 4-3-3 as well as the 4-2-3-1. In terms of pedigree and experience, he’s an upgrade over the existing wingers.

Colorado could be more fluid in 2020, but Benezet should be mostly a winger. I would not expect him to be the No. 10 this year.

Fraser’s familiarity:

Robin Fraser was an assistant with Toronto until August 25. He and Benezet overlapped at the club for almost a month. That month included three appearances for Benezet. This move probably doesn’t happen unless Fraser believes in the player. This move definitely doesn’t happen for the combined transfer fee and expected salary unless the club thinks the player is worth it.

Fraser must believe Benezet is of value.

Other players and productivity:

With this move the Rapids have a lot of wingers. Jonathan Lewis and Sam Nicholson secured the left and right flank last year. At times, Diego Rubio and Andre Shinyashiki played there as well. If the Rapids are only playing with one center forward, that’s five players for two, maybe three starting roles if one of them moves to a wide midfield role.

One of the strikers will likely be moved to a mostly center forward role. Jonathan Lewis could become a super sub. We probably won’t know how things will shake up until the team gets together and Coach Fraser gets to try things and let players compete. In any case, this is a good problem to have.

What this means for the DP move(s):

In total cash for 2020, the Rapids will have to drop well over $1 million on Benezet. The club confirmed with Last Word on Soccer that Benezet will be on TAM in 2020.

Still, it’s worth asking how much money the war chest has left with the transfer fees and Benezet’s salary. The Rapids were potentially pursuing winger options at DP as well. They aren’t signing a DP at that position now.

Does this mean they are only signing one DP this winter? Or is KSE really opening the purse strings so the Rapids can sign a TAM winger and two other attacking DPs?

As long as Benezet works out, it might be ok for Colorado to only sign one DP. But if he ends up being a bust and this signing made it so the Rapids couldn’t get a DP, questions will be asked.

TRANSACTION: Colorado Rapids acquire the rights to winger Nicolas Benezet from Toronto FC in exchange for $50,000 in General Allocation Money (GAM) and an additional $50,000 in GAM if Benezet starts 75% of all games in 2020.

Name: Nicolas Benezet
Pronunciation: nik-uh-luhs ben-eh-ZAY
Position: Winger
Height: 5-5
Weight: 134
Birthdate: February 24, 1991
Birthplace: Montpellier, France
Hometown: Montpellier, France
Last Club: Toronto FC
Nationality: French
Twitter: @NicolasBenezet

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