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Coffee with the Caps, Monday March 8

SOCCER: OCT 07 MLS - Vancouver Whitecaps FC at San Jose Earthquakes Photo by Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Good Monday morning Caps fans, we are another week into training camp and another step closer to the regular season being upon us.

Just because players are back in training, however, does not mean that the transfer rumors have to stop! Bruno Gaspar seems to be the next capture for the Caps but it seems they are not done yet.

A range of sources, both in Brazil and North America, have credibly linked the Caps to a move for Botafogo’s Caio Alexandre, a central midfielder who appears to have oscillated between the 8 and the 6 role for his club. A 22-year-old, Alexandre appears to be the next potential young money signing for Vancouver.

There appears to be some pretty compelling evidence that Alexandre is a top talent in the Brasileirao. He has been getting serious minutes for an admittedly pretty bad Botafogo side and he was named by O Globo as one of the ten top youngsters in the most recent chapter of the national league.

Alexandre seems to be Leonard Owusu, just much better. He appears to be an excellent passer of the ball, providing three times the number of key passes per game as Owusu, and can chip in some goals as well, as he offers 1.3 shots-per-game (also a marked step up over Owusu).

His defensive and aerial abilities appear to leave something to be desired, so this would appear to be a replacement for Owusu or Michael Baldisimo, with Janio Bikel still serving as the out-and-out defensive midfielder.

Comparing Alexandre to Baldisimo is also a pretty favorable comparison for the Brazilian, who had significantly better numbers against a higher level of competition and in 4 times the number of minutes as Baldi. Caleb compiled these numbers showing that the two would actually be pretty compatible together (dribbling and take-ons is a noticeable weakness for Alexandre).

Alexandre better be good, with a transfer fee pegged at more than $4 million. There is a lot to like about the Caps being linked to one of the top young midfielders in Brazil, a market they have generally ignored and could stand to mine for talent.

But I also have a lot of questions. Sure, Alexandre isn’t going to be ready, with a visa-in-hand, in time for opening day. And Baldi could miss significant time on international duty and the Caps probably don’t want to be over-reliant on Owusu, after his shaky first year in MLS.

But given that the team is very much short on international spots and the fact that Jasser Khmiri appears to be going nowhere, one wonders how the math is going to work here. The team will need a spot for Gaspar as well and, theoretically, will want one for their mystery DP number 10.

In truth, however, Alexandre is exactly the kind of signing you make if you want to improve service but not bring in a true creative midfielder. Given that the season is inching closer and more and more signs appear to be pointing to the team doing its CAM business in the summer transfer window, Alexandre could be a way of holding things together before the DP is inked.

And after that deal is made? Well, the Caps will have an abundance of riches to choose from in terms of creative players, with the notion of an Alexandre/Baldisimo midfield (with Bikel behind) quite tasty indeed.

The transfer makes sense for Botagofo — the side just got relegated out of Brazil’s top national division and could presumably use a $4 million windfall. It makes sense for Alexandre too, as he is exactly the kind of player the YAM slots are designed for as someone who could easily be on his way to Europe after a season or two.

Whether it makes sense for the Caps is to be determined based on how they will get to the requisite number of international spots. It also would constrain their DP search to younger, under-23 players, perhaps further dragging out that saga, as it doesn’t appear the interest in Tigres’ Leonardo Fernandez is real as of right now.

But you can’t say the Caps aren’t looking to splash some cash — the Gaspar deal, if made permanent, would be a major outlay for a fullback and, on top of Caicedo, the Alexandre deal would represent another sizable transfer fee.

Whether it can all come together on the pitch? Well, that also is decidedly TBD. But given that we are in the land of eternal promise that is the preseason, the Caps are certainly feeding my desire to dream of some real, tangible success.

Best of the Rest

More on the Caps’ dealmaking for Alexandre, whom they are looking at as a “dynamic central midfield option” rather than a CDM (a good move based on his stats from Brazil)

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