MLS

TFC signs defender Chris Mavinga

Toronto FC has signed French-born Congolese international Chris Mavinga, a defender whose resume includes some big-name clubs but also a few missteps.

Highly-touted 25-year-old has had share of missteps

Toronto FC has signed defender Chris Mavinga, right, pictured in 2015 with Troyes of the French Ligue 2. (Francois Nascimbeni/AFP/Getty Images)

Toronto FC has signed French-born Congolese international Chris Mavinga, a defender whose resume includes some big-name clubs but also a few missteps.

Mavinga is the first major off-season signing for the MLS Cup runners-up. For Toronto, the signing offers some defensive insurance at the very least — with the plus-side hope the 25-year-old can live up to past billing.

In 2009, a highly recruited Mavinga left Paris Saint-Germain for Liverpool. Despite impressing with the reserves, he never played a first-team game for the Reds.

Seven years and five clubs later, Mavinga finds himself with another set of Reds in Major League Soccer.

"He is a defender that played in the French national youth system which is recognized around the world as a leader in player development," Toronto GM Tim Bezbatchenko said in a statement. "We are very excited to add Chris to Toronto FC. His experience at the youth and senior levels will be a welcomed addition to the club."

TFC is currently training in California, with Mavinga en route Tuesday on a Paris-to-San Francisco flight according to his Twitter feed.

Mavinga can play left fullback and centre back, offering head coach Greg Vanney more options in his 3-5-2 formation. Toronto lost two reserve defenders in the off-season — centre back Josh Williams (Columbus) and right back Mark Bloom (Atlanta).

Mavinga has signed a two-year deal with an option for a third with MLS.

Kicked opponent in face

The left-footed defender came to England as an 18-year-old, choosing Liverpool despite reported interest from Arsenal. He was loaned to Belgium's Genk the next year before moving to Rennes in France in 2011.

The six-foot-one 172-pounder joined Russia's Rubin Kazan in 2013 with loan spells at Reims and, most recently, Troyes in France.

Mavinga made headlines for all the wrong reasons in 2011 with Genk. Chasing a high-bouncing ball down the flank, he went to kick it while Standard Liege's Mehdi Carcela-Gonzalez bent down to try to get his head to it.

The result was Mavinga catching Carcela-Gonzalez flush in the face with a high, hard boot. The Moroccan, who was knocked out on the play, suffered facial fractures and a concussion.

In October 2012, he found himself in hot water for leaving the French under-21 team's training base in Le Havre with a group of teammates without permission to visit a Paris nightclub some 200 kilometres away in the midst of European qualifying playoff.

The French team had beaten Norway 1-0 in the first game but lost the return leg 5-3 after the illicit nightclub visit. France coach Erick Mombaerts was subsequently fired.

Mavinga and current Atletico Madrid star Antoine Griezmann were among four players banned from international play until Dec. 31, 2013.

Mavinga subsequently switched his international allegiance to DR Congo, earning his first senior cap in September 2015 in an Africa Cup of Nations qualification match.

The re-signing of veteran French midfielder Benoit Cheyrou is expected imminently. With Cheyrou already in camp with TFC, it is a question of when not if.

Toronto has also been hunting for an attacking midfielder.

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