“It was always a target: how can we add quality and leadership and experience to our roster.”

Valour FC’s aggressive roster makeover has delivered two new players as Phillip Dos Santos & Co. continue to piece together the puzzle for 2024.

Winnipeg’s Canadian Premier League club announced today the transfer of goalkeeper Rayane Yesli to Atlético Ottawa — with midfielder Noah Verhoeven being loaned in return for the 2024 season – while also signing Canadian keeper Jonathan Viscosi, who has spent the last seven years playing primarily in Sweden and Finland.

Yesli’s exit increases the number to 16 of players who suited up for Valour last season but have since departed. A finalist for CPL Goalkeeper of the Year, Yesli finished with seven clean sheets, tied for third-most in the CPL, and was seconds in saves with 81. But with Valour having missed the playoffs, sweeping changes were inevitable.

“We don’t want to take anything away from what Rayane did here,” said Dos Santos, Valour’s GM and head coach in conversation with “He’s a brilliant young man with very big upside. But we have to look at it this way: when we bring everything together our objective is to be a better team and we feel we’ve done that.

“One move was attached to the other here because as I was negotiating with Viscosi we knew that deal would only come through if Rayane was being transferred.”

Verhoeven, 24, brings experience to middle of the park for Valour after making 111 CPL and Canadian Championship appearances for Pacific FC (2019-20), York United (2021-22) and Ottawa (2023)

“We think Noah has a very high upside and the best is still yet to come for him in this league,” Dos Santos said. “He’s a player with a lot of quality on the ball and he has that ability to allow the team to breathe and get the team out of pressure – a little bit like Guti – and what we saw in him is what we lacked a bit in the roster: a bit of range in the midfield as a player that sees the game in 40 and 50 yards. He has a very good left foot, he’s aggressive on the ball and he has a lot of quality in set play delivery.”

Viscosi, 32, was born in Ottawa and moved around North America at the beginning of his professional career before heading overseas. His busiest seasons were with TPS in Finland in 2017-18 where he made 59 appearances and then 45 appearances across 2021-23 with Dalkurd in Sweden.

“When you have goalkeepers on loan like (James) Pantemis and Joe Sirois in years past you’re always attentive to this: ‘If we don’t get the loans again, who can we get?’” Dos Santos explained. “And Viscosi was always a name that came around, it was about whether it was the right time for him to come to Canada. He was open to it while he was having his career in Europe, but never made a push for it. This year in talking to him we felt he was ready. He’s married and he and his partner felt this was the next move for them and a good moment to move back to Canada. It’s something he wanted and when we started discussions with Ottawa about Rayane we saw this opportunity to add a player like Noah that fills a void that was left with the departure of Gutierrez.”

That leadership component is critical, especially as the last two captains – Gutiérrez and Jean-Baptiste – have now left.

“We’re a team that has lost experience when you look at AJB and Guti moving on and so it was important for us to add that to our locker room,” Dos Santos said.

“We assessed everything and decided we needed different leadership and that’s what he’s going to bring us. He brings experience being in first division football in Finland and Sweden and he’s a goalkeeper that brings a lot of qualities. He’s commanding in the way he leads the back line; he’s a good shot stopper and I like how he manages the game. ”

Valour’s roster now features two veteran keepers in Viscosi and Darlington Murasiranwa, who joined the club last season and made two starts and has previous experience with FC Edmonton.

“We think it’s a good pairing,” said Dos Santos. “We really like what Darlington brought to the table in the last two games after he arrived. It’s an open fight because he’ll have a word to say in all of this. He’s just a great character.”