VANCOUVER, BC – Vancouver Whitecaps FC continue to bolster their roster on the eve of the 2020 MLS season, solidifying their midfield while adding depth at the fullback position, with the acquisition of Janio Bikel via transfer from Bulgaria’s First Professional Football League side CSKA Sofia on Friday.
The 24-year old central midfielder has agreed to an MLS contract through 2022, with an option for 2023. The former Portuguese youth international will occupy an international roster spot and will join the team in the coming days - pending receipt of his International Transfer Certificate (ITC), medical, work permit, and visa.
“Tactically, Janio gives us the ability to play him in a couple of different positions. He is versatile, he has the right mindset, good physical abilities, and fits the profile we want here,” said Whitecaps FC head coach Marc Dos Santos. “I know the coaches he had at the Portuguese youth national teams. He’s a player who has been an important member at his previous clubs and we are very happy to have him in Vancouver.”
Whitecaps FC central midfielder/right back Janio Bikel
- Represented Portugal at the U-19 and U-20 levels
- Began pro career in the Netherlands with SC Heerenveen and NEC Nijmegen
- Helped CSKA Sofia to a runner-up finish in the Bulgarian First League and semifinal of the Bulgarian Cup in 2019
“Janio provides a lot of options for us as he is comfortable in possession, a good dribbler, and is always defensively aware,” added Whitecaps FC sporting director Axel Schuster. “He can play centrally in the midfield and recently he has played right back. It is also important to note he is only 24 and has already played 140 professional games.”
A native of Bissau, Guinea-Bissau, Bikel has represented Portugal at the U-19 and U-20 levels, and played academy football in the Netherlands with SC Heerenveen, making his pro debut with the Eredivisie side in March 2015 before transferring to Dutch side NEC Nijmegen in July 2015 for three seasons.
Bikel joined CSKA Sofia in June 2018 and quickly became a key contributor, helping the Reds to a runner-up finish in the Bulgarian First League, as well as a semifinal berth in the Bulgarian Cup in his first season.
In over five professional seasons, Bikel has compiled 140 first-team appearances across all competitions in his career.
TRANSACTION: On February 28, 2020, Whitecaps FC acquired Janio Bikel via transfer from Bulgaria’s First Professional Football League side CSKA Sofia. Bikel has agreed to an MLS contract through 2022, with an option for 2023.
Janio Bikel Figueiredo Da Silva
Pronunciation: je-niu bee-kell
Positions: Central midfielder/right back
Weight: 155 pounds
Date of birth: June 28, 1995 in Bissau, Guinea-Bissau
Hometown: Bissau, Guinea-Bissau
Citizenship: Guinea-Bissau, Portugal
Former club: CSKA Sofia (2018-2020)
Youth club: SC Heerenveen