As soon as Lassana Diarra was sold to Real Madrid I told anyone that would listen "We have a JDG sized hole in our midfield." JDG is of course Julian de Guzman, star Canadian midfielder who was seeing out his contract at Deportivo La Coruña in the top flight of Spanish football. Sadly he spent most of last season on the bench at Depor after privately and later publicly complaining about the €800,000 in unpaid bonuses he had earned. In the 2007/2008 season he was the club's player of the year as well as the Gold Cup MVP. To claim the honour from Deportivo La Coruña he led the club to European football. The Gold Cup MVP is also considerable seeing as how Canada only reached the semi final. Now that you have some back story, we can go back to January 2009 when JDG was sitting on the bench in Spain and refused to sign a new contract with the club until they paid the bonus money. That is why I thought it would be an ideal time for Portsmouth to use some of the £20M that we received for "Lass" to buy JDG. I thought that rather then let him leave for free at the end of the season La Coruña would be open to an offer. Disappointingly no offer came from Portsmouth and surprisingly no other clubs bid for his services either.
When the transfer window opened at the start of the summer, I wasn't sure of where Julian would end up and who would be in charge at Portsmouth. Julian came home to Toronto ahead of joining up with the National side for the Gold Cup. He did interviews where he talked about his desire to stay in Europe and said that now was not the time for him to join Toronto FC. Just a note here Toronto's director Mo Johnston has always described Julian as the ideal designated player for Toronto FC. Then before the Gold Cup got underway there were rumours that TFC had offered him a contract. That of course was not the surprise, it was the fact that he was considering it that got the attention of the blogosphere and the media as a whole. Eventually it came out that the deal offered was $10M over 3 years (about £30,000/week) and what was more it was nearly done. This combined with the fact that The Score's Kristian Jack wrote an article that had two key points. First that the deal with TFC was 90% complete. This news worried a lot of Canadian supporters, as it would not have been good for our best player to return to the MLS in the prime of his career. Don't get me wrong, it would have been a great signing for TFC, but bad for Canada and bad for Julian. The second point KJ made was that Julian had tried to drum up interest from Celtic, Spurs, & Pompey. His attempts weren't greeted with much enthusiasm from the clubs. This set off a flare in me, JDG wanted to play for Pompey and we weren't interested? Looking back I hope now that the lack of interest was because we didn't have an owner or a manager in place. It was a similar situation with Celtic not having a boss either. Spurs were linked with JDG in January but perhaps had filled the role that JDG was going to play in. What ever the reasons were, I did take some spirit from the fact that JDG had considered Pompey a possible destination.
I then set upon the task of letting other Pompey fans know that JDG is interested in playing for us. I started by writing to the club and urging them to sign JDG (I had done this in January as well and I have yet to hear a response from either message). Then it was on to the forums I made posts that we should sign Julian and over the course of July it started to gain support, there were other Pompey fans that had seen him play and thought he would be a good signing. It was starting to gain momentum then I sent a question to Pompey Talk from the News (the News is a Portsmouth based newspaper) which they read out and then discussed Julian for about a minute. Most of them hadn't heard of him, but they were going to look into it and mention it to Paul Hart when they saw him. I can only hope that this happens.
The facts remain the same Julian needs to find a club, and Pompey need players. Given that we are offering trials to 25 year old midfielders from the French League, I am a little baffled that we haven't made a move Julian yet. As the topic continues to spread I hope that Julian is given a look. A possible bonus is that Portugal are now training in North Portugal about 300km from where Julian played in Spain, hopefully some casual enquiries would bring Hart more encouragement to sign JDG. We play Fulham in a little over a fortnight and I know I am not alone in wanting to see Julian de Guzman in our starting lineup at Fratton Park on August 15th.