There were nothing but smiles at Real Sports Bar on Monday evening as Federico Bernardeschi was officially unveiled as Toronto FC’s latest signing and Designated Player.
After five seasons with Juventus, where he won three Serie A titles, Bernardeschi is set to begin the next chapter of his career as he leaves not just Europe, but also Italy for the first time in his career.
Toronto FC becomes the first non-Italian club on Bernardeschi’s resume, and despite only being 28, the Italy international is raring to go in MLS.
“I chose to come here because I want to win, I want to invest in this project, this project for the future that is Toronto, and I really want to win here,” affirmed Bernardeschi.
A question that may still be on several people’s minds is why Bernardeschi would cross the Atlantic at 28 years of age when offers from other European clubs were also on the table?
The former Juventus and Fiorentina star won everything there was to win at the domestic level in Italy, as well as having played a part in Italy’s unforgettable run to Euro 2020 glory just over a year ago.
Moreover, there is no doubt that at his age, Bernardeschi would still thrive at one of Europe’s top clubs, but for him, an exciting adventure in Toronto now lies ahead, and judging by the energy he brought to his introductory press conference, the winger could not be more ecstatic.
“I did have some other choices in Italy, and I feel very lucky to have had those choices, but I chose MLS because I felt I finished my path in Italy. I won a lot of trophies with Juventus and I also won the Euros with the national team.
“When I came to Toronto two months ago, I loved Toronto in two seconds, it was incredible.
“Me and my family, my wife and my children are so very very happy to be here.”
Bernardeschi’s gleaming smile and intoxicating energy throughout the press conference served as quite the morale booster for both the club and its fans given the rollercoaster of a season the Reds have had thus far.
With the business end of the season fast approaching, Bernardeschi will hope that he and his two fellow compatriots, Lorenzo Insigne and Domenico Criscito, can turn the tide and prop Toronto up the Eastern Conference table.
On Insigne, Toronto FC’s new No. 10 described how thrilled he is to link up with the Napoli legend at the club level.
“It’s a great opportunity because me and Lorenzo won the Euros, and playing together in Toronto is wonderful. It’s amazing for me and for him. I’m so excited for this, and I want to play with Lorenzo as soon as possible.”
Having always been on opposing sides during each of their tenures in Serie A, Bernardeschi, Insigne and Criscito will undoubtedly relish the opportunity to play starring roles for TFC alongside each other.
The trio last featured in a matchday squad together on the international stage back in October 2018 in a UEFA Nations League clash against Poland. Insigne and Bernardeschi both started for Gil Azzurri, while Criscito was an unused substitute on the day.
Following an unveiling filled with laughs and cheers, Bernardeschi has ‘fan favourite’ written all over him. Now in full training with the Toronto FC first team, it is highly likely that he will make his highly anticipated debut for the club when the Reds welcome Charlotte FC to BMO Field on Saturday, July 23rd.
Born in Carrara, Tuscany, Italy, Bernardeschi debuted at the professional level while on loan at Serie B side Crotone from Fiorentina during the 2013-14 campaign. The winger then made his bow in Serie A with La Viola a year later.
A stellar 2016-17 campaign with Fiorentina saw the Italian score 14 goals in all competitions, his career high to date. Juventus then came calling and signed the winger for €40 million ahead of the 2017-18 season.
In his five years with the Old Lady, Bernardeschi made 183 appearances, scoring 12 goals and assisting 24.
As the fourth Italian footballer in history to join the Reds, the signing of Bernardeschi is momentous to say the least, especially given the impact a certain Toronto FC arrival from Juventus had during his time at the club.