Toronto FC head coach Mo Johnston put to rest growing rumors that U.S. national team midfielder Maurice Edu was preparing for a winter transfer move to England, telling SoccerByIves.net that the TFC star is staying put.
"What people don’t think about is that right now he doesnt’ have the qualifications to go (to England)," Johnston said of Edu, referring to Edu’s inability to secure a work permit. "Are teams interested? Of course they are, but right now I think it bodes well for Maurice to stay in the league and develop.
"When the time is right for him to go, we’re not going to stand in his way."
Edu has been linked to a move to Aston Villa, which is in the market for a defensive midfielder. Edu caught the eye of Villa manager Martin O’Neill last summer when Toronto FC played Villa in a friendly. At least one other English club has also expressed interest in Edu’s services.
"Martin (O’Neill) loved him when he was here," Johnston said of Edu. "Maurice was oustanding and turned some heads.
"What people forget is that he just finished his first year as a pro," Johnston said. "There’s still room to grow and we’re excited about that."
Edu, the 2007 MLS rookie of the year, has impressed with the U.S. national team since starting in his first appearance, the team’s 1-0 exhibition win against Switzerland on Oct. 17. The 21-year-old midfielder is expected to be a key figure on the U.S. Olympic team this year and has established himself as a strong candidate to start when the U.S. senior national team begins its World Cup qualfiying campaign this summer.