Surprise is probably the word most easily associated with Toronto FC's acquisition of Italian international Sebastian Giovinco, as was confirmed by the club earlier this week. The reaction was no different in Turin, or the rest of Europe for that matter, when it was learned that the 27-year-old would be leaving Juventus at the end of the season to play in Major League Soccer. Danny Penza, managing editor of SB Nation's Juventus Blog Black & White & Red All Over, fills Waking the Red in on the Italian perspective of this transfer.
1. Considering the fact that Major League Soccer is a big, physical and sometimes unforgiving league, do you think Giovinco will be effective?
One of Giovinco's obvious weaknesses is his size (or lack there of). As he's gotten older, Giovinco hasn't exactly bulked up to his little frame. He draws a lot of fouls, but it's not like he has a lot of physical strength to fend off bigger defenders in Serie A. That doesn't mean he can't — or hasn't — been effective in Italy. If he has more of a wider role where he can cut in on defenses, I'm sure he can do great things. But if he's solely used as a "seconda punta" or played behind the strikers, his lack of strength might be taken advantage of by opposing defenders.
2. There is some concern here that this could be similar to Jermain Defoe, that Giovinco wouldn't have the right attitude. Is there any history to suggest this?
Giovinco's career at Juventus hasn't been an easy one. After he returned from a year on loan at Empoli, a lot of folks, myself included, thought he would get consistent minutes once he broke into the starting XI. That never happened. He was understandably upset, and I don't blame him. That's why he went to Parma and subsequently excelled there. If he's playing and playing well, I don't think he's going to be a problem. It seems like any time there has been an issue with Giovinco — or his always willing to talk agent — it's been about playing time. But TFC isn't shelling out this kind of money to have him sit on the bench, so it's not like he won't be a focal point of the team.
3. At his best, what did Giovinco provide Juventus that makes him a potentially solid addition to Toronto FC's roster?
Giovinco isn't a lightning-quick kind of striker — don't let those FIFA15 rankings fool you — but he provided Juventus with a nice change of pace compared to some of the other strikers they have had over the last three or four years. The last 18 months have seen Giovinco's playing time go down substantially, but I always thought he was a really good option off the bench for either Antonio Conte or Max Allegri. Like I said, he can win free kicks, score a few of them as well, and can create plenty of scoring chances. Outside of dealing with the physicality of MLS defenses, I do think he'll be a great addition to both TFC and the league as a whole. While he never truly met the hype, it's not like he's short on talent. (No pun intended.)
4. Are most Juventus fans surprised at this move? What is the feeling towards Giovinco going to MLS?
I think a lot of Juventini are surprised. This isn't a shot at MLS by any means, but mainly because a solid striker who reportedly had offers from England and Italy chose the big pay day at the soon-to-be age of 28. Some will look at this solely as a move to grab a huge chunk of cash in MLS and only that. And maybe that is the case, I don't know. But it's not like the TFC rumors were out there for what seemed like years with the reports linking Giovinco to Arsenal or some other EPL teams. Then again, I know a handful of Juventini who live in Toronto and they are absolutely thrilled about seeing him come to TFC. There's definitely a little bit of a "too good to be true" sense going around with them right now.
5. Do you think this move could encourage other players like Giovinco to consider MLS as a potential career option?
5. It might, but it also depends on what's out there for those who are considering it in the future. Even though I don't follow the MLS on a regular basis, I know it's a growing league. Maybe Giovinco signing with an MLS side makes those players who aren't in the mid-30s to consider a move to North America. But who knows if the players who do consider it get the same kind of financial offer Giovinco does. Because let's be honest, you know that huge contract played a big role in Super Seba coming to Canada.