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5 players on expiring contracts Toronto FC could target (Part 1 - Strikers)

A wish list of attacking talent that TFC could target in 2022

Lorenzo Insigne with Italy
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The silly season appears to be in full swing this week with news swirling again over Toronto FC having made overtures to SS Napoli captain Lorenzo Insigne. Should he land in Toronto next year he would immediately become the most valuable player in MLS with a nominal value of $52.8M USD as determined by Transfermarkt. Such a signing brings to mind the day TFC acquired club legend and all-time leading scorer Sebastian Giovinco. The buzz about the club would be identical. While it is exciting to dream of a player of Insigne’s pedigree coming to TFC until a deal is announced it remains exactly that – a dream.

With three designated players under contract for next year any steps TFC management take in procuring new high end talent must take this into consideration. It is important to keep in mind that should any player requiring a designated player slot be brought in it will require a corresponding departure of one of the three DPs currently signed for next year, which Waking The Red can confirm is in the works. This will necessitate either a transfer out (the best option) or potentially a contract buy out (usually a last resort).

For this case, let’s assume TFC will seek out players on expiring contracts in order to minimize, or avoid altogether, any transfer fees to pay out. Virtually all non-North American players on expiring contracts remain under contract until June 30, 2022 to fit within the traditional European club calendar. Therefore, targeted players may not actually arrived to the club until the summer unless a fee is negotiated or they are released by their clubs.

With the Insigne to TFC rumours it appears Soteldo’s days as a red are numbered.
Waking the Red / Sean Pollock

Up front, TFC’s most urgent need is for strikers with as many as four attacking players from last year possibly hitting the exits. It is anticipated a DP quality attacker will be sought and perhaps a second striker who may require Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) to fund their salary as well (depending on how Bob Bradley envisions lining up). Anything less, and TFC may be in for another challenging season where goals were hard to come by.

A short wish list of strikers has been compiled, including Insigne, to exemplify the quality of players available to Head Coach and Sporting Director Bradley and TFC President Bill Manning to target. The players are listed according to their expected current market value (MV) in US dollars as determined by Transfermarkt.

Napoli captain Insigne celebrates after scoring during a Coppa Italia match against Lazio on January 21, 2020
Francesco Pecoraro / Getty Images

Lorenzo Insigne - Age 30 | 163 cm | MV $52.8M | SS Napoli - Serie A | 5 G 6 A 17 MP

Another diminutive veteran Italian national team player for the TFC books, hopefully. Such an acquisition instantly brings to mind 2015 and the instant credibility it brought to TFC. Insigne was busy this year with the Azzurri with 15 of his 53 appearances in 2021. A right footed winger who likes to cut inside, Insigne can play CF as well, but most likely would be deployed in his favoured left wing position. Insigne will command a salary and a DP slot that will likely spell the end of Yeferson Soteldo’s tenure in Toronto as he would directly replace his spot on the pitch too.

Lacazette with Arsenal
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Alexandre Lacazette - Age 30 | 176 cm | MV $24.2M | Arsenal FC- EPL | 3 G 1 A 13 MP

A prolific goalscorer in his days with Ligue 1’s Lyon, goals have been harder to come by in the EPL. Struggles with scoring this season are perhaps the worst Lacazette has gone through in his career. However, many ascribe these troubles to the offensive system at Arsenal where nobody is scoring much. A change in scenery would certainly benefit the former France international. He too would likely command a hefty DP salary and that may price himself out of the picture should the club succeed in signing Insigne.

Joselu celebrates with Deportivo Alavés
Image: Jon Izarra

Joselu – Age 31 | 192 cm | MV $6.6M | Deportivo Alavés - La Liga | 7 G 1A 15 MP

José Luis Sanmartín Mato as he is known to his mother, is a technically gifted traditional CF who links up well with others across the attacking front. Joselu has experience with clubs in Spain, Germany and England, and has been enjoying a renaissance with Deportivo Alavés since signing with the La Liga side in July 2019. He would likely require a DP slot, but should come considerably cheaper than Lacazette. Currently rumoured to be a summer target of Sevilla, it has been reported that Joselu is seeking to leave Alavés when his contract is up.

Jesús Jiménez with Górnik Zabrze 7 May 2021
Rafał Rusek / Press Focus

Jesús Jiménez - Age 28 | 183 cm | MV $2.2M | Górnik Zabrze - Ekstraklasa | 7 G 3 A 18 MP

An ever-present in the Górnik Zabrze lineup, Jiménez is on target for a third consecutive season scoring in double digits with the Polish club. As a centre forward Jiménez loves to wander across the front line to link up with other attackers. It may be possible to bring the Spaniard in on a non-DP salary if TFC has sufficient TAM available. Per Polish media, Jiménez is not expected to resign with Górnik Zabrze with some interest noted by Polish rival club Lech Poznań, and by Turkish club Konyaspor.

Adebayo in action with Luton Town
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Elijah Adebayo - Age 24 | 193 cm | MV $2.2M | Luton Town - Championship | 9 G 1 A 19 MP

The youngest of the group under review here, Adebayo is perhaps the one with the highest ceiling relative to where he is currently at. Signed by Luton Town 18 months ago out of League Two, the powerful English striker has adapted well to playing in the Championship. While the player has aspirations of reaching the EPL he may be tempted to come to MLS for a couple years if the salary offered can greatly exceed the £171,600 annual salary he currently earns. Adebayo is another player that TFC could acquire on a TAM salary and avoid using up a valuable DP slot.

Any of these forwards briefly touched upon would be a substantial upgrade to most of TFC’s attackers from last season. Each would contribute to the return of TFC to competitiveness and respectability. All would signify to the TFC fan base that the club is setting out on a new journey distinct from the past and focused on the present.

The above selection of forwards, as previously stated, serves to provide examples of the types of players that are available on a free transfer by the summer 2022 transfer window. It further reinforces the fact there is no need to return to the aging stars of the past decade in the hope of turning back the hands of time.

While Insigne has been approached by TFC it remains to be seen what will transpire over the next 10 weeks before the 2022 MLS season opens February 26. Come January there will be new faces on the team. It is with great interest to TFC fans to see who the club will bring in. One thing is sure. If TFC land a player such as Insigne it will pique the interest of others to follow. The players capable of returning TFC to its winning ways are out there. It is up to Bradley and Manning to get them.