Why Sebastian Giovinco will be a success for MLS club Toronto FC


Bringing in a big name player from a top European league is nothing new to the supporters of Toronto FC.

Jermain Defoe, Michael Bradley and Julio Cesar all penned deals with the Canadian club last year to stir up understandable hyperbole, but as of yet, a coalescence of factors have hampered this team’s quest to reach the post-season playoffs in their nine-year existence.

But as the early capture of Sebastian Giovinco was announced by the club—meaning the Italian will join up with the team for pre-season training—those fans—who will have learned to hone instinctive reflexes for getting ahead of themselves—have good reason to get excited. After all, it’s not every day you land someone who the Reds’ general manager Tim Bezbatchenko revered as a “world-class player”, per BBC.

While the likes of Defoe, Bradley and Cesar are all fine players in their own right, none have an array of aesthetic qualities quite like the former Juventus man. Giovinco’s intelligent movement, fleeting turn of pace and fundamental attacking qualities should light up Major League Soccer when the campaign gets underway.

MORESebastian Giovinco is arguably the most important MLS signing in recent history

Giovinco is not a quick fix for Toronto’s longstanding problems, though. Branding him as “world-class” is certainly a little mawkish on the part of Bezbatchenko and that will only serve to stoke the expectation levels surrounding the club’s latest capture.

Plus, with all due respect to the Canadian side, for a player to be leaving a club like Juventus—where Giovinco enjoyed a 19-year association with—at the age of 27 suggests something isn’t quite right with the forward. Especially when in the infancy of his career, the man dubbed as the “atomic ant” was brashly tipped for stardom by plenty possessing considerable clout within Italian football. 

His first-team debut came in the wake of the Calciopoli match fixing scandal with Juve languishing down in the second division. During these dark days, the refreshing talent of Giovinco provided some vital positivity and his technical ability was on show in earnest with an exceptional assist for David Trezeguet in his very first senior appearance for the club.

The adulation for this exciting young forward came thick and fast, but he was sent out on loan to Empoli the following season. Again he impressed in bursts and although the Tuscany club were subsequently relegated, it was a vital learning curve for the young forward.

He returned to Juve and although he showcased glimpses of real class—Azzurri star Gianfranco Zola actually tipped Giovinco to fulfil the unfathomable void left by the iconic Alessandro del Piero, per Goal.com—Giovinco has never quite been able to nail down a regular spot in Bianconeri colours since.

In fact, the team with who he played his best soccer was Parma. They had the Italian for two seasons between 2010 and 2012, during which he excelled in the midst of a dynamic attacking front line. In the second of those campaigns, Giovinco was was one of the best players in Serie A, bagging 15 goals and 10 assists as I Gialloblu finished eighth in Italy’s top flight.

Again a return to Juve failed to yield much in terms of first team chances and with Carlos Tevez, Fernando Llorente, Alvaro Morata and Kingsley Coman all perceivably ahead of the Juve academy graduate in the pecking order, the time was right to move on. But with clubs like Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur reportedly interested, a move to MLS was a big surprise.

It begs the question, just exactly what kind of player will Greg Vanney have to work with? Is there a desire that still burns within the striker? Or—like a host of other illustrious names that have joined MLS sides—will he be tough to extradite from the comfort zone conjured by a substantial pay packet?

Encouragingly, if history is anything to go by when it comes to the player himself, circumstances dictate that he should flourish in Toronto.

Admittedly, the prospect of filling the shoes of Del Piero comes with accompanying expectations that’d make plenty of players wilt. Plus, Bezbatchenko has been far from shy in his assessment of the club’s new No. 10, hailing Giovinco’s arrival at the club as a “monumental moment for Major League Soccer and Toronto”; no pressure there, then.

But throughout his career Giovinco has excelled when a team has been built around his talents, when he’s been the brightest star in the side. If Vanney can get his players accentuating the Azzurri man’s abilities in a manner comparable to what Parma did a few seasons ago, then he could well take off. 

The hunger to prove himself should be there for Giovinco, too. Questions about his ambition come part and parcel of opting for the lucrative luxuries of the MLS over another top European side, but there should an eminent willingness to finally make good on the undeniable potential he has showcased far too scarcely throughout his tumultuous career to date.

Follow Matt on Twitter @MattJFootball


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