There was no doubt in anyone's mind that Sebastian Giovinco's 2015 season was incredible, but was it too good? That was the question that many supporters had going into this offseason: had Giovinco outplayed Toronto? Would all the goals, assists, awards and spinning-backheel-roulettes combine to give the Atomic Ant a European offer he couldn't refuse?
Toronto FC and Major League soccer would have played hardball, obviously, especially with what happened with Jermain Defoe just a year ago. It would have been similar to the Didier Drogba situation, the league may have ultimately won but it would have been difficult to fend off suitors.
They never had to go through any of that, however, as Giovinco said from the start of preseason that he wanted to play for Toronto and he never wavered. There was interest from Barcelona, but the atomic ant was never really a fit there. Serie A sides likely would have lined up, but he said early that he didn't want to go home.
As the European transfer window officially expires, there was never any reason to doubt that Giovinco would be back in Toronto for 2016. Considering what had happened just last year with Defoe, and all of the doubt and disappointment that came with him, it was incredibly refreshing to see Giovinco's clear loyalty.
Tim Bezbatchenko and others involved in this acquisition evidently deserve praise as well. After messing up on one of their two big signings the year before they learned from those mistakes and hit one of the park with Giovinco. They were able to make him fall in love with the city, and understand how much he means to the franchise.
It's not out of a lack of skill or ambition that he didn't return to Europe now that the spotlight was on him, or even why he came to Toronto in the first place. Keep in mind after all that he is still the highest paid Italian player on the planet, and has a very solid chance of playing with Italy at Euro 2016.
Giovinco, instead, has embraced the role of being a superstar and of being appreciated. He is the face of the franchise and really the entire league as well. His treatment from the organization by all accounts has been first class, and that is certainly true of Toronto supporters. This wasn't an opportunity he was going to get anywhere else, and he appears to be loving every minute.
Perhaps next year, or the year after, it would be good for him to leave for Europe again if that's what he wants. At that time he would get an opportunity to prove he truly is a top talent, to put a big dent in the Major League Soccer retirement league case.
For now, though, Toronto FC still need him if they want supporters to continue to buy what they have been selling these past three seasons: a team progressing to the top. The fact that they have clearly gotten Giovinco on board is an important start, and one that will continue to earn the trust of the fans.
When the summer transfer season rolls around, there will surely be a least a few more rumours about Giovinco's departure. This will be especially true if he performs well at Euro 2016. But Toronto supporters can now be fully confident that he wants to be here, and for the foreseeable future little will change that feeling.