Brush up on your Italian, because English may no longer be the official language of Toronto's BMO Field. Long has the club been looking for a way to pander to the city's large Italian population and they have now found a way to do it, bringing in Italian international and Juventus star Sebastian Giovinco per reports from John Molinaro of Sportsnet. The Toronto Sun has since confirmed this report.
Tim Bezbatchenko had teased at the Jozy Altidore press conference yesterday that the club would be making more major announcements in the coming weeks, it looks like this one is set to be revealed on either Monday or Tuesday. The deal, like Altidore's will be multi-year and will evidently pay the Italian a ton of money, with some Italian papers reporting in the range of $6 million per season.
There were several clubs in Europe interested in the 27-year-old, one of the reasons it was initially believed that Toronto FC would not land the player. However, none of them were willing to offer the player the amount of money that Toronto did. It seems that the disappointment of Jermain Defoe hasn't stopped the MLSE board from being willing to fork out money to improve this club. Love him or hate him, Tim Leiweke is to thank.
Giovinco will turn 28 before he joins the club in July, and already has plenty of experience in the Serie A. He has played 91 games and scored 12 goals during that time in Juventus. Giovinco has also played on loan with Parma and Empoli. For the Italian national team, he has a single goal in 21 games. However, he fell down the depth chart with Juve and only played in 6 matches this year. He will likely have played a few more as he is expected to finish the season in Turin.
Where Giovinco fits in Toronto's lineup remains to be seen, but with his calibre of play it hardly matters. Bezbatchenko made it clear that the team's main priority was bringing in a top attacking player to shore up their lineup, although he distinctly mentioned that this player didn't have to be the highly coveted "number 10". That is likely the role Giovinco will play, although it may not be in the most traditional sense.
Toronto FC advertised the Altidore move as a player that they are sure about having success in MLS, but Giovinco is likely an even more surefire move. With his skill and speed he instantly becomes one of the best players in the league: think a more talented Obafemi Martens. If he is anything like the Seattle Sounders forward who was in the running for MLS MVP, he will put the club that much closer to making their first ever MLS appearance.
The final question in all of this, evidently, is what happens now that Toronto has four designated players. At this point it may come down to whether or not the CBA will afford them a fourth designated player slot or not. If they get that opportunity, they will retain Gilberto, who is the odd main out. If not, the Brazilian could be gone just as soon as he arrived in the league. There is also the possibility that they use allocation money to buy some of Gilberto's contract and remove his designated player status. If they can, Toronto still seem interested in retaining him.
Either way, this is another positive move for Toronto FC. The club has already addressed two major aspects of its spine and will now spend the remainder of the preseason trying to add some other solid bones to the team's frame. Toronto is past the point of convincing anyone of their ability in preseason, but with this move they will certainly draw public interest once again.