Víctor Vázquez (footballer, born 1987)
Vázquez warming up for Toronto FC in 2017
|Full name||Víctor Vázquez Solsona|
|Date of birth||20 January 1987|
|Place of birth||Barcelona, Spain|
|Height||1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)|
|Playing position(s)||Attacking midfielder|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 9 November 2019|
After starting out at Barcelona he went on to spend most of his career with Club Brugge, appearing in 165 competitive games with the latter club and winning the 2015 Belgian Cup. He also competed professionally in Mexico, Canada and Qatar, winning a domestic treble with Toronto FC in 2017.
Born in Barcelona, Catalonia, Vázquez joined the youth system of FC Barcelona at the age of 11. At La Masia, he was part of the iconic class of '87 team, playing alongside future first team players Cesc Fàbregas, Lionel Messi and Gerard Piqué. He progressed through the youth ranks, making his debut for the first team on 12 April 2008 after coming on as a substitute for Santiago Ezquerro in the final 15 minutes in a 2–2 La Liga away draw against Recreativo de Huelva; Pep Guardiola called him for the team's pre-season in the following campaign, where he appeared in three official games, but none in the domestic league.
On 9 December 2008, Vázquez started and finished in the 2–3 home loss to FC Shakhtar Donetsk, in the last UEFA Champions League group stage match, but was again mainly registered with the reserves. On 8 February of the following year he suffered a serious knee injury in a game with the latter, going on to miss the remainder of the season in Segunda División B.
Due to the lengthy calendar in 2009–10, many first-team players were given breaks towards the end of the year. Thus, on 29 December 2009, four Barça B players were called by Guardiola: Thiago, Gai Assulin, Jonathan dos Santos and Vázquez. All returned to where they had come from the following month.
On 7 December 2010, after coming from the bench for fellow youth graduate Jeffrén Suárez, who suffered an early injury, Vázquez scored his first goal for Barcelona's first team, contributing to a 2–0 home win against FC Rubin Kazan for the Champions League group stage, as the hosts had already secured the first place in their group.
In late April 2011, after 14 years at the Camp Nou (including youth years), Vázquez agreed to join Club Brugge KV, and a three-year contract was signed the following month. In March 2013 he extended his link until 2016, being considered a key player and essential to the further development of the squad according to sporting director Arnar Grétarsson.
At the end of the 2014–15 season, after again being first-choice as his team won the regular season in the Belgian Pro League, eventually finishing second, and also capturing the Belgian Cup, Vázquez was voted the Belgian Professional Footballer of the Year. He also helped his side to a quarter-final run in the UEFA Europa League in his last year with the club and, across all competitions, made 173 appearances over five seasons, scored 25 goals and provided 50 assists, including seven goals and four assists in 33 matches in the latter tournament.
On 30 December 2015, Cruz Azul signed Vázquez to a three-year contract for US$1.5 million. His time in Mexico was largely unsuccessful, however, and he only made a limited number of appearances before leaving; he played 23 competitive games during his spell at the Estadio Azul, scoring once and providing one assist.
On 20 February 2017, Vázquez transferred to Canadian club Toronto FC. He scored his first goal on 18 March in a 2–0 away win over the Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Throughout his first season in Major League Soccer, he drew praise in the media for adding depth to his new team's attacking play, courtesy of his vision and distribution, and formed a notable partnership in midfield with captain Michael Bradley, who was in turn freed from much of the team's creative responsibilities and played more of a defensive role, while still sharing some of the playmaking duties with the Spaniard; Vázquez's playmaking ability and link-up play with forwards Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore saw him finish as the second highest assist provider of the regular season (16) while also notching eight goals, as Toronto captured the Canadian Championship followed by the Supporters' Shield for most points in the league, after a 4–2 home win over New York Red Bulls on 30 September in which he scored from an injury time penalty.
In Toronto's last match of the regular season on 22 October 2017, a 2–2 away draw to Atlanta United FC, the former club broke the league's point record of 68 points, set by LA Galaxy in 1998, by one point. Eight days later, in the first leg of the Eastern Conference semi-finals in the play-offs, Vázquez scored the opening goal in a 2–1 away win over the New York Red Bulls. On 29 November, in the return leg of the Eastern final against Columbus Crew SC, at BMO Field, he missed a penalty in the 26th minute, but later set up the only goal of the match scored by Altidore, which saw his side emerge conference winners for the second consecutive year and earn a place in the MLS Cup Final; on 9 December, in the decisive match played at the same venue, he was involved in Altidore's opener and subsequently scored the final goal in a 2–0 win over the Seattle Sounders FC for an unprecedented domestic treble.
His second season at the club was less successful however, as he struggled with injuries, collecting eight goals and nine assists in 21 MLS appearances and totalling matches 26 across all competitions. Although Toronto defended their Canadian Championship title, and even reached the final of the CONCACAF Champions League in 2018, with him starting in the second leg, they missed out on the playoffs for the first time in four years.
Style of play
A skilful and creative playmaker, Vázquez is noted for his vision, technique, passing and his composure in possession, which enables him to link-up with other players, distribute the ball quickly and create goalscoring opportunities for his teammates. A team player, he has also drawn praise for his intelligence, work-rate, stamina, awareness, selflessness, movement off the ball and positional sense on the pitch, as well as for being a key dressing room personality. Although he is primarily known for his ability to create goals he is capable of scoring them himself, and is also an accurate free kick and penalty taker. An experienced and versatile midfielder, he usually plays as an attacking midfielder behind the strikers, but is also capable of playing in the centre in a 3–5–2 formation, or on the left wing in a 4–4–2 formation; he has also occasionally been used in a more advanced position, operating in a free, creative role, playing behind or off of another forward as a second striker.
Vázquez had the words "solo el mas fuerte sobrevive" (only the strongest survives) tattooed on his arm as he recovered from his second knee surgery. He also had several other tattoos which reference his wife, son, grandmother and sister, including the text "Life is meaningless without you, forever yours" on his back, dedicated to his wife.
|Barcelona C||2005–06||Tercera División||29||7||—||—||—||29||7|
|Barcelona B||2006–07||Segunda División B||29||1||—||—||—||29||1|
|2008–09||Segunda División B||19||0||—||—||—||19||0|
|2009–10||Segunda División B||18||1||—||—||—||18||1|
|2010–11||Segunda División B||25||1||—||—||—||25||1|
|Club Brugge||2011–12||Belgian Pro League||35||6||1||0||11||1||—||47||7|
|2012–13||Belgian Pro League||28||3||1||0||5||1||—||34||4|
|2013–14||Belgian Pro League||20||2||1||0||1||0||—||22||2|
|2014–15||Belgian Pro League||24||4||4||2||12||5||—||37||11|
|2015–16||Belgian Pro League||14||0||1||0||8||1||—||23||1|
|Cruz Azul||2015–16||Liga MX||14||1||4||0||—||—||18||1|
|Toronto FC||2017||Major League Soccer||31||8||3||0||0||0||5||2||39||10|
|2018||Major League Soccer||21||8||0||0||5||0||0||0||26||8|
|Al-Arabi||2018–19||Qatar Stars League||7||2||0||0||—||—||7||2|
|Umm Salal||2019–20||Qatar Stars League||9||0||3||0||—||—||12||0|
- MLS Cup: 2017
- Canadian Championship: 2017, 2018
- Supporters' Shield: 2017
- Trillium Cup: 2017
- Eastern Conference Championship (Playoffs): 2017
- Belgian Footballer of the Year: 2014–15
- MLS Best XI: 2017
- Red Patch Boys Player of the Year: 2017
- Kelly, Cathal (1 November 2017). "Victor Vazquez is key to Toronto FC – and his pubis will be fine". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 1 November 2017.
- "Debe ser el número 23" [Must be number 23] (in Spanish). ESPN Deportes. 18 November 2006. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
- "Recreativo Huelva 2–2 Barcelona". ESPN Soccernet. 12 April 2008. Retrieved 5 October 2012.
- Vilar, Rut (30 August 2017). "Víctor Vázquez: "Lo mejor para un chaval de 16 años es seguir en el Barcelona"" [Víctor Vázquez: "The best for a 16-year-old kid is to continue in Barcelona"]. Sport (in Spanish). Retrieved 29 November 2017.
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- Rutherford, Kristina (9 September 2017). "Big Read: Why Victor Vazquez is like no player in Toronto FC history". Sportsnet. Retrieved 1 November 2017.
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- "Rubin blown away by Barcelona young guns". UEFA. 7 December 2010. Retrieved 7 December 2010.
- "Victor Vazquez in Brugge, maar nog niet voor handtekening" [Victor Vazquez in Bruges, but not yet for signature]. Het Nieuwsblad (in Dutch). 30 April 2011. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
- "Brujas: oficial la llegada de Víctor Vázquez" [Club Brugge: arrival of Víctor Vázquez official] (in Spanish). esFutbol. 4 May 2011. Retrieved 5 October 2012.
- "El presidente del Brujas confirma el fichaje de Víctor Vázquez" [Club Brugge president confirms signing of Víctor Vázquez]. Sport (in Spanish). 10 May 2011. Archived from the original on 19 August 2011. Retrieved 5 October 2012.
- "Victor Vazquez verlengt contract bij Club Brugge" [Victor Vazques extends contract at Club Brugge]. Het Nieuwsblad (in Dutch). 21 March 2013. Retrieved 23 August 2014.
- "Victor Vázquez is the players' Player of the year". De Redactie. 22 May 2015. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
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- Arredondo, Mónica (30 December 2015). "Víctor Vázquez, exjugador de Barcelona, será contratación de Cruz Azul" [Víctor Vázquez, former Barcelona player, will be a Cruz Azul signing] (in Spanish). ESPN Deportes. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
- Grossi, James (3 March 2017). "In Victor Vazquez, Toronto FC feel like they finally got their man". Major League Soccer. Retrieved 1 November 2017.
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- "Toronto FC 2, Seattle Sounders 0 | 2017 MLS Cup Final recap". Major League Soccer. 9 December 2017. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
- Nightingale, Tom (15 January 2019). "Report: Toronto FC's Vazquez making Qatar move". The Score. Retrieved 1 February 2019.
- Davidson, Neil (15 August 2018). "Altidore hits hat trick as TFC thump Vancouver to win Canadian Championship". CTV News Channel. Retrieved 1 February 2019.
- "CD Guadalajara 1, Toronto FC 2 | 2018 Concacaf Champions League Recap". Major League Soccer. 25 April 2018. Retrieved 1 February 2019.
- Molinaro, John (7 October 2018). "No excuses for Toronto FC's failure to make MLS playoffs". Sportsnet. Retrieved 1 February 2019.
- Nightingale, Tom (15 January 2019). "Vazquez departs TFC as one of MLS' great unheralded talents". The Score. Retrieved 1 February 2019.
- "العربي يتعاقد مع مهاجم برشلونة السابق لمدة موسم ونصف" [Al Arabi hire former Barcelona forward for one and a half seasons]. Al Arab (in Arabic). 21 January 2019. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
- "Umm Salal get ready for Netherlands camp". Qatar Stars League. 8 July 2019. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
- Molinaro, John (26 August 2017). "TFC's Vazquez vs. Impact's Piatti a battle of MLS's finest". Sportsnet. Retrieved 1 November 2017.
- Molinaro, John (2 June 2017). "'Selfless and humble' Victor Vazquez thriving with Toronto FC". Sportsnet. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
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- Grossi, James (9 September 2017). "Supporters' Shield leaders Toronto FC dominate again, clinch playoff berth". Major League Soccer. Retrieved 1 November 2017.
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- Davidson, Neil (5 July 2017). "Toronto FC heads to Orlando hoping to shake off tough loss to Dallas". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
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- Molinaro, John (21 November 2017). "TFC earns hard-fought clean sheet in first-leg draw with Crew". Sportsnet. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
- "Víctor Vázquez". Soccerway. Retrieved 9 March 2014.
- "Team statistics". Toronto FC. Retrieved 3 June 2017.
- Víctor Vázquez at Major League Soccer
- "Victor Vazquez is Football Player of the Year". Club Brugge. 22 May 2015. Retrieved 1 November 2017.
- "2017 MLS Best XI revealed: Who was the best in 2017?". Major League Soccer. 30 November 2017. Retrieved 1 December 2017.
- "RFB Toronto FC "Man of the Year" Award". Red Patch Boys. Retrieved 1 July 2018.