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The Globe and Mail

Toronto FC rewards defender Chris Mavinga with a new contract

Columbus Crew goalkeeper Zack Steffen, left, clears the ball in front of Toronto FC defender Chris Mavinga (23) during first half MLS eastern conference semifinal playoff soccer action in Toronto on Nov. 29, 2017.


Toronto FC has rewarded French-born Congolese defender Chris Mavinga with an improved contract.

The MLS club called it a multi-year contract extension but a source confirmed that Mavinga's existing deal has been torn up and replaced with a new one with an extra year of term.

The 26-year-old joined the MLS champions ahead of the last season, moving on a transfer from Russia's Rubin Kazan in January 2017.

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After an uneven start, he become a fixture in the Toronto backline and played in 31 regular-season and playoff games in 2017. Left-footed and blessed with good speed, Mavinga has proved to be a calming influence in the Toronto defence.

Mavinga made a crucial late tackle Wednesday night to deny a potential tying goal in Toronto's 2-1 win over Mexican champion Tigres in the first leg of the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal.

Mavinga made US$300,691 last season, according to the MLS Players Association, to rank fifth on Toronto's payroll behind designated players Sebastian Giovinco, Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore, and Spanish playmaker Victor Vazquez.

Fullback Justin Morrow signed a multi-year extension last week, following a stellar 2017 season that saw him named to the MLS Best XI.

Toronto had previously re-signed defenders Drew Moor and Eriq Zavaleta.

Mavinga, whose father is Congolese, started in the Paris Saint-Germain system at 14. He left for Liverpool at 18, helping France win the under-19 European title in 2009-10. But he found himself shunted to the back in Liverpool after manager Rafa Benitez left.

Loaned to Belgium's Genk, he moved to France's Rennes before being lured by a lucrative deal to Rubin Kazan in 2013.

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Unhappy in Russia, he was loaned back to France's Reims and Troyes before joining Toronto.

His early days in the MLS proved awkward. He was sick when he arrived in training camp and found himself going back and forth to France to be with his pregnant partner.

He lasted just 51 minutes in his first start, a 2-2 draw April 8 with visiting Atlanta that saw him chasing both goals.

A groin injury delayed his return. But Mavinga returned five games later in Seattle and has been a fixture in the defence ever since.

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