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Alberto Gilardino to join Toronto FC for $9.5 million

Toronto FC may be closing in on securing their first big name Designated Player of the Tim Leiweke era as reports suggest that a deal to bring Alberto Gilardino to MLS in January is nearing completion with the club set to splash out $9.5 million to land the players rights from Genoa.

Claudio Villa

Toronto FC's designated player search seemed to have gone cold.  After weeks of being linked to just about every player imaginable things had gone quiet on the European front.  When you combine the quiet with the report that Daune Rollins ran on Canadian Soccer News about local voices potentially derailing a transfer for Alberto Gilardino it would be reasonable for fans to start worrying that the big plan to make everything better by spending a lot of money was not exactly working out.

Before things went quiet it seemed that TFC were closing in on securing Gilardino's signature.  A transfer fee had reportedly been agreed with Genoa and an offer was in the player's hands.  The only remaining questions were would the Italian forward accept the offer and if he did when would he make the move to MLS.

The deal may have been derailed but according to reports coming out of Italy on Tuesday afternoon it is not dead.  In fact, it could well be back on track with MLSE set to flex their financial muscles to secure the forward.

The article to which Digby refers to on La Repubblica is blocked behind a paywall but a number of other sites are already running similar reports (an English example here).

Paying a $9.5 million transfer fee for the forward would make this the biggest deal in MLS history in terms of the price tag.  The cost of the deal is so high because it seems that Gilardino would be making the move to MLS in January and that would be a big blow to Genoa.

Genoa currently find themselves sitting in the top half of the Serie A table with 18 points from their first 13 matches and Gilardino has been a big part of their success.  He has started all 13 matches for the club and found the back of the net on six occasions.  That is not the kind of contribution that the club is likely to give up cheaply.

With TFC not being the most attractive destination out there the one thing that MLSE does have to work with is piles of cash.  It seems that they thrown enough cash in the direction of Genoa and Gilardino and the deal might just get done this time around.

Still, no dotted lines have been signed and no press conferences have been held and as we have seen in the past few months a story like this can continue to have twists and turns right up to the last moment (see: Diego Forlan or Tal Ben Haim).

There is reason to remain hopeful that Gilardino could be in the side when Toronto FC open the season against Seattle on March 15th but until a deal is made official it seems best to remain cautiously optimistic.   The good news is that according to the timeline set out by Tim Leiweke the official news may not be that far off and TFC fans may get a bit of an early Christmas present.