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Sources: Lorenzo Insigne to join Toronto FC this summer

Should this happen, this will be one of the biggest signings in MLS history.

US Sassuolo v SSC Napoli - Serie A Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

A few weeks ago, Michael Singh confirmed that Toronto FC had made an offer for Napoli captain and Italian international Lorenzo Insigne. Talks were reportedly advancing towards a positive conclusion, although Napoli were still trying to re-sign him and Tottenham was also interested in the winger (both teams offered significantly lower compensation than Toronto FC). Inter Milan were also kicking his tires.

On Tuesday, again thanks to Michael Singh, WTR can confirm that Toronto FC and Lorenzo Insigne have now agreed on a contract. He will join the Reds in the summer.

There are, of course, some conflicting reports out there, because silly season, and because anything official cannot be announced until the new year. 90min states that “his representatives are still waiting” to see if there are any further offers from European teams such as Tottenham and Inter Milan, however, it is unlikely things will change because of the “high compensation that TFC has agreed to.”

Toronto FC has reportedly offered a five-and-a-half-year contract that is worth about $13 million USD per season, with $5.1 million USD in add-ons ($16.7 million CAD, with $6.5 million CAD in add-ons). This is a net salary — not take-home pay. No transfer fee will be paid because he only has six months left on his contract, which means TFC can sign him on a pre-contract with him to join the squad once his contract with Napoli expires this summer upon completion of their campaign.

If his payout is this large, he will not only have the highest salary in the league at the moment but in the entire history of MLS. In fact, given that Giovinco’s salary was about $5.6 million USD while he played for TFC, Insigne’s $13 million USD contract will more than double what the Atomic Ant cleared in his salad days at the club. Lorenzo Insigne to Toronto FC will break the mold.

SSC Napoli v Empoli FC - Serie A Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images

When Insigne joins Major League Soccer, he will likely be the most valuable player in the league, currently valued at about $40 million USD on Transfermarkt. To put that in perspective, 2020 MLS MVP Alejandro Pozuelo was worth about $9 million USD just before he came to Toronto, which is less than a quarter of Insigne’s current market value.

Along with Insigne, Toronto FC has reportedly also been exploring the idea of signing striker and Italian international Andrea Belotti, which would be another huge signing for both the Reds and Major League Soccer as a whole. However the idea of him joining doesn’t seem to be very close to reality at the moment. WTR can confirm that Genoa defender Domenico Criscito and another Italian striker from Serie A are in talks with Toronto FC at the moment.

Insigne is an absolutely astounding signing for Toronto FC. After a poor showing last year, the front office has been seeking to rebuild its squad under the stern hand of its new Manager and Sporting Director, Bob Bradley. It appears that they are going big, just like they did back in 2014/2015 with the signings of players like Jermain Defoe and Sebastian Giovinco. His signature will be (in my view) the biggest signing since David Beckham and is a breakthrough signing for the league as he demonstrates the increased willingness for world-class talent to move to MLS. Keep in mind that Insigne is one of the key offensive pieces to the Italian National Team at the moment, and has been viewed as one of the best players in Serie A for many years. He’s also the current captain of Napoli, which is interesting to note since that means that Toronto FC has signed two captains as designated players over the past few years (Alejandro Pozuelo (from Genk) and Insigne).

Insigne has also come off of one of his most prolific seasons (statistically), bagging 19 goals and 8 assists over the course of the 2020/21 Serie A season. This campaign he has scored 4 goals and registered 5 assists over 15 appearances (1090 minutes), meaning that he is getting a goal or assist every 121.1 minutes at the point of writing. Keep in mind that he is a winger, who usually score less than out and out strikers.

Insigne has been with Napoli for years, joining at 15 after moving from Olimpia Sant’Arpino in 2006. He eventually made his debut in 2010 under Walter Mazarri where he has since won the Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana. With Italy, he recently won the 2020 Euros (hosted in 2021 due to COVID-19). He has scored 10 goals in 53 appearances with his national team since his international debut in 2012.

Napoli’s Italian striker Lorenzo Insigne gestures during the... Photo by Salvatore Laporta/KONTROLAB/LightRocket via Getty Images

Toronto FC currently have three designated players under contract: Alejandro Pozuelo, Yeferson Soteldo, and Jozy Altidore. Since every MLS team is limited to three designated players, at least one of them will have to leave. Waking The Red can confirm 90min’s report that Toronto FC is actively trying to offload Soteldo. 90min is reporting that the asking price is $7 million USD, which would be $500 000 USD more than what they paid for him last year. He is currently linked with Sao Paulo and Palmeiras — two teams from Brazil — however, there are apparently several suitors in South America vying for the Venezuelan’s services. WTR is hearing that Insigne won’t be officially announced by the club until Soteldo’s departure.

In addition to Soteldo, WTR can confirm that Altidore will not be returning as a designated player next season. Despite contrasting reports, we believe that matter has been settled weeks ago.

Regardless of the roster limitations, this signing is extraordinary and has never been seen before in MLS. The 2022 season is going to be an exciting year for Toronto FC fans, marking a new era for the squad as it moves on from some of the last few key players remaining from our championship-winning side in 2017.