Sebastian Giovinco has made it clear he would like to return to Toronto FC, but obstacles remain before such a reunion can take place.
There is no debate Sebastian Giovinco was an integral part of the most successful period in Toronto FC history. Now, as per an interview with the Toronto Star‘s Laura Armstrong, he wants to return to Southern Ontario.
In theory this is exciting news for the Reds’ fan base, especially after they endured arguably the worst season in franchise history. The reality is different though, with different challenges to consider.
The biggest challenge is money, with speculation indicating Giovinco is asking for too much to return. He dismissed these claims while talking to Armstrong, although he preferred to keep details of what he considers to be a fair contract offer private between him and TFC.
The 2015 MLS MVP was a designated player during his time in Toronto. As things stand, TFC already have the maximum three designated players (DP) each MLS club is allowed.
Alejandro Pozuelo isn’t going anyway, although there is some question over the future of both Yeferson Soteldo and Jozy Altidore. Soteldo seems to be the more likely to leave, due to his apparent inability to settle both on and off the pitch in Toronto.
Even if the winger does move on though, Napoli’s Lorenzo Insigne is considered high on the list as a potential replacement. As per Steve Buffery of the Toronto Sun, TFC have reportedly offered a potential MLS record-breaking amount of money to the Italian international.
In fairness to Giovinco, he does seem willing to make some financial sacrifice, at least in terms of being a DP. Speaking to Armstrong, he said:
"“It’s not nice to be the best player on the field and not be designated player but I close one eye for TFC. But just for TFC.”"
While Giovinco is prepared to take less than DP money for Toronto, the question still remains of how realistic his contract demands are? In terms of his perspective that he is being fair, consider Amstrong asking if he would consider a deal similar to the one Michael Bradley signed in December 2019.
The TFC captain accepted a significant $6.5-million pay cut to sign a three-year deal for the maximum Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) at the time. Giovinco told Armstrong he would consider something close to this figure, which was set at $1,612,500 for the 2021 MLS season.
The four-time MLS All-Star has so far met twice with the Reds; TFC president Bill Manning insists the door will always be open to Giovinco, although this doesn’t mean a reunion is imminent. Speaking to Buffery and other members of the media, Manning said:
"“The (MLS) salary cap is the biggest thing. We can talk about players all day long but if we can’t put them on our roster because of the league (cap), well, that’s the biggest that you have to manage. Again, as January comes and the window opens up I think there’s going to be movement (with new players). We’ll see how things shake out and see if there’s an opportunity there (with Giovinco).”"
As much as Giovinco has every right to believe in himself, Toronto FC similarly have the right to be cautious. What should — or can — be expected from a player who will turn 35 in January?
The 2015 MLS Golden Boot winner was last year named one of the 25 greatest players in MLS history. His consistency was exceptional during his time in Toronto, with 68 goals and 52 assists in 114 league games.
To expect a similar level of production at this stage of Giovinco’s career seems unrealistic, although he does remain supremely confident. He believes the first step towards TFC rebounding from their nightmare 2021 season is to bring him back.
Further, the Turin, Italy native wants to play another three of four seasons before considering retirement. Whether this takes place in Toronto remains to be seen.
To reiterate his desire to return to Toronto, Giovinco told Armstrong he has already turned down offers from a couple of teams. However, he knows he will soon be at a point where he can no longer hold off seriously considering signing elsewhere:
"“…now we are already (at) four months; I think it’s enough to wait and to say no to the teams. We have to start to talk if we want to talk; if not, I have to figure out other options.”"
Are you for or against a potential reunion between Sebastian Giovinco and TFC, and why? Let us know in the comments section below.