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The case for selling Sebastian Giovinco to China

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Are there any reasons Toronto FC’s answer to interested clubs wouldn’t be a flat ‘no’?

MLS: MLS Cup Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Disclaimer: I - obviously - want Sebastian Giovinco to stay in Toronto and win an MLS Cup, and the certain downside of selling him far outweighs the dubious upside. But projecting unrealistic alternative realities fills a Saturday morning.

Every time Sebastian Giovinco or his agent, Andrea D’Amico, have been asked about the interest from the Chinese Super League that has dominated the opening week of Toronto FC’s preseason, the answer has been the same.

“We’ll talk it over with Toronto.”

To which the natural response is: What exactly are they expecting to talk about? Common sense suggests Tim Bezbatchenko and Bill Manning would be about as receptive to the idea of letting their star player leave five weeks before the start of the new season as they would to the suggestion BMO Field should be remodelled in Argos blue.

Then again… would they be doing their jobs properly if they did not at least consider each and every option at their disposal? And if we do that for them, are there any pros to letting go of a man who has scored 39 goals in two seasons?

Well, kind of.

1. There’s probably a lot of money on the table

FC Zenit St Petersburg v FC Lokomotiv Moscow - Russian Premier League Photo by Epsilon/Getty Images

Giovinco wouldn’t be the only one to cash any on any potential deal with a Chinese club. Tianjin Quanjian, who are coached by fellow Italian Fabio Cannavaro and were rumoured to be one of the clubs interested, have just paid a reported €20 million for Axel Witsel - who had less than six months to run on his Zenit contract. Have you heard of Elkeson or Ricardo Goulart? Probably not, because they’ve only played in the Brazilian and Chinese leagues. €33.5 million for the pair.

Sure, MLSE are wealthy enough not to demand that TFC save up the cash for whoever their next major signing ends up being - but it certainly would help if they really wanted to make a splash to have a good chunk of team-generated income to contribute.

2. Think of the possibilities it opens up

Bayer 04 Leverkusen Training Session and Press Conference Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

Instead of trying to squeeze a new attacking midfielder under the cap with targeted allocation money, TFC could throw as much as they wanted at the best target they can think of. We now know that Jozy Altidore is the real deal - as long as he stays fit - and Tosaint Ricketts is waiting in reserve. You could play one up front for more tactical flexibility and reallocate the remaining dollars available to another depth striker.

Alternatively, just sign up a direct replacement to play with Jozy. Javier Hernandez isn’t having the best of times at Bayer Leverkusen at the moment.

3. Good teams make moves before it’s too late

AFC Championship - Pittsburgh Steelers v New England Patriots Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The textbook example here is the New England Patriots and Bill Belichick. One of the keys to Belichick’s remarkable long-term success has been his willingness to repeatedly trade seemingly vital players a year or so before, for whatever reason - usually age - their value diminishes.

Toronto may not be able to land draft picks or other futures in deals with clubs from abroad, but they do have the aforementioned financial considerations to bear in mind.

Giovinco just turned 30. Perhaps those end-of-season cramps weren’t just turf-related but a sign of wear and tear on the body and miles on the clock.

So, should they sell him?

MLS: Philadelphia Union at Toronto  FC John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Of course not.

They don’t need the money, there isn’t enough time to secure a replacement, there is probably not a better forward or attacking midfielder available anyway and Giovinco has only played 311 games in his career. Wayne Rooney, just a year and three months older, has played 623.

If a certain trophy has been added to the much-maligned BMO Field cabinets by this time next year, ask again then.