Soccer

Toronto FC signs French midfielder Laurent Robert

Toronto FC bolstered its midfield by signing Frenchman Laurent Robert on Wednesday.

Toronto FC bolstered its midfield by signing Frenchman Laurent Robert on Wednesday.

Robert and the Major League Soccer club agreed to terms after he was released from his current contract with Derby County of the English Premiership.

Terms of the deal were not released.

Robert is expected to start for Toronto FC on the right side of midfield, replacing Irishman Ronnie O'Brien who was traded by the club to the San Jose Earthquakes before the start of the regular season.

"We are thrilled to have Laurent join Toronto FC and become part of our club", said general manager Mo Johnston. "He’s a tremendous player with a lot of talent and we expect him to come in and make an impact with our team straight away. He’s played at every level, and is a true professional in every respect."

Robert, 32, is a veteran midfielder who is best remembered for his successful stint with Newcastle United where he scored 32 goals in 181 games in all competitions for the English club from 2001-2006.

It was at Newcastle that Robert played under current Toronto FC head coach John Carver, and won plaudits for his quickness, powerful shot and ability to score from free kicks.

"I’ve spent a lot of time with him, and I know a lot about his game," said Carver. "He’ll be a big asset to the team, he’s got pace, his ability on free kicks is top class and he’s a great finisher."

Aside from Newcastle, Robert has also played in Spain (with Levante), Portugal (Benfica) and his native France (Montpellier and Paris Saint Germain).

Robert, who has one goal in nine appearances for the French national team, will be eligible to make his debut for Toronto in Saturday's road game against D.C. United, pending the completion of his International Transfer Certificate.

With files from the Associated Press

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