Toronto FC: Weighing up the dispute between Giovinco and Manning

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 19: Sebastian Giovinco #10 of Toronto FC prepares for a free kick during the first half of the 2018 Campeones Cup Final against Tigres UANL at BMO Field on September 19, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 19: Sebastian Giovinco #10 of Toronto FC prepares for a free kick during the first half of the 2018 Campeones Cup Final against Tigres UANL at BMO Field on September 19, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

After Sebastian Giovinco lashed out at Toronto FC on Instagram, club president Bill Manning expressed his disappointment and confusion over the comments.

It’s fair to say that everyone associated with Toronto FC is stunned by the departure of Sebastian Giovinco. As much as recent speculation indicated it was possible he might leave, most people didn’t want to believe it was genuinely feasible.

Unfortunately for those concerned, the possibility became a reality on Wednesday. All indications are that no one really wanted it to happen, but the game of chicken between Giovinco and TFC’s front office ended with a transfer to Al-Hilal FC in Saudi Arabia.

Initially, the 2015 MLS MVP said all the right things. As per Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun, he released a statement on Wednesday which read:

"“I’d like to thank the fans and my teammates for four special years playing for Toronto FC. I’d also like to thank the club for helping me as I transition into the next phase of my career.”"

However, Giovinco changed his tune on Thursday, as per a post he shared on Instagram. Here are the comments which stood out most:

"“It’s without hesitation that I can say that I wanted it to end differently…Unfortunately, this desire of ours has clashed with a change in direction with current TFC management. For the two years I have been seeking to extend my contract, however, management was reluctant. Recently, after refusing to exercise the club option for 2020, I was offered terms that I deemed unacceptable. They may say I left for a more lucrative deal, but this is not the case. Their offer and lack of transparency is a clear message. It seems management prefers to focus on things other than the pure desire to win…After having grown the brand and elevating the overall reputation of TFC both at home and abroad, it seems I no longer serve a purpose. I would have accepted less to stay in Toronto.”"

Before we go any further, let’s be clear in saying Giovinco has been fantastic throughout his time in Toronto. As the best player in franchise — and arguably league – history, he helped the Reds become a top team, which included winning their first ever MLS Cup.

Giovinco was remarkably prolific in Toronto. His 83 goals and 64 assists in 142 total appearances average out to a goal contribution per game played.

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With all that said, certain comments from the 32-year-old appear to allude to some contradiction. He stressed he wanted to remain in Toronto and says claims that he left for a more lucrative deal in Saudi Arabia are not true.

However, if Giovinco did indeed receive a lower offer from Al-Hilal compared to TFC, then why did he leave? Why move from somewhere that he wanted to end his playing career?

In this respect, while appreciating we don’t have all the facts, it appears the Italian international is not being entirely genuine. As far as we can tell, he purely left because another club offered him more money.

Talking of money, Toronto FC club president Bill Manning admitted the team was offering Giovinco less than he had earned during his four years with the team. However, during an appearance on TSN 1050 on Tuesday morning, Manning did add he would still be among the top five or six paid players in the league.

Assuming this is true — Manning wouldn’t confirm the exact figure — it represents a fair compromise. Apart from the player’s age, he also had the top cap hit in MLS during the 2018 season, at just over $7.1 million.

Since then, Manning has had more to say, expressing his disappointment and confusion over Giovinco’s Instagram post. In particular, he was surprised by the player’s claim that he would have taken less to remain in Toronto.

Manning discussed the issue with the Canadian Press on Thursday. As reported by Sportsnet, he said:

"“At the end of the day, I think it’s a player (that) didn’t get his way and he lashed out at the team…I’ll tell you never once did Andrea (Giovinco’s agent) indicate that the player would take anything less than he was currently making…we were basically every time told ‘We are not taking anything less.””"

As we’ve said previously, when you have two different versions of the same event, the truth if often somewhere in the middle. And again, we do appreciate we do not have all the facts to hand.

Regardless, it does seem that Giovinco is being the more unreasonable one in all of this. Which is a shame, as it helps bring an unsatisfactory conclusion to what was the most important, entertaining and rewarding period in Toronto FC history.

The four-time MLS All-Star said he wanted it to end differently, and it could have done. The fact it didn’t is purely down to his being motivated mainly by money and is something that he’s going to have to live with.

Next. The impact of losing Victor Vazquez. dark

What’s your take on Giovinco’s and Mannings comments? Who do you believe is being more genuine? Or do you appreciate the position of both sides? Regardless, what kind of success do you predict for the Reds this coming season, without the best player in franchise history? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.