Toronto FC unveiled Federico Bernardeschi for the first time as he joins the latest contingent of Italians to join MLS this season.
When he made a secret trip to Toronto as part of TFC’s recruitment plan, it didn’t take long for Federico Bernardeschi to realize where the next chapter of his career would be.
The Italian winger reportedly signed a deal that will pay $5 million a season and have him with TFC until 2026. He joins Lorenzo Insigne and Domenico Criscito as the three additions from Serie A who are excited about a new project in MLS.
“I finished a path in Italy and with a lot of winning, a lot of victories and also some losses and delusions as well,” explained Bernardeschi in his first press conference since signing with the team. “MLS is very competitive, and it has a huge future. And I really believe in the future project of this team. I decided to come here for a new opportunity to win, and to win internationally.”
After spending nine seasons in Serie A with Fiorentina and Juventus, Bernardeschi decided to leave offers on the table in Italy to join TFC.
During his visit to Toronto, the 28-year-old learned how strong the sports culture in the city is and that was a big selling point to him.
“I see the passion, the real passion, for football, for soccer, for NBA, for baseball, for all,” Bernardeschi explained. “Toronto is a city of sport. OK? And I love Toronto for this. And for the big family of TFC. I’m so very, very, very happy to be here.”
So why would Bernardeschi leave a top-flight league like Serie A to join MLS?
He made it a point to bring up how he is joining a big project in Toronto and in a way, it’s a new challenge for a player that comes from a team that was always in contention. It’s no secret TFC has had its struggles the last few seasons and needed a change.
Losing Greg Vanney had a big impact on the team and with Bob Bradley in the fold, it’s clear the team was looking to make changes both on and off the pitch.
It remains a work in progress but there is certainly a lot of excitement considering the calibre of players TFC has acquired in Insigne and Bernardeschi (and Criscito to a degree). Bill Manning did say that the club has some flexibility to make more additions and also has the designated player spot vacated by the departure of Carlos Salcedo.
Finding another DP calibre player might be asking a lot right now and the team doesn’t feel a rush to fill that now and it’s likely a move that gets done in winter transfer window.
For now, TFC will be eagerly waiting for the debut of Insigne and Bernardeschi. When that will be? Bradley couldn’t give a definitive answer.
“Lorenzo is still training on the side but we’re hopeful that in the next day or two, he’ll be joining the group,” he added. “And then as we get to the end of the week, we’ll know.,” Bradley explained.
“We want to get them both on the field as quickly as possible. But it has to be done in a smart way.”
For Toronto, they do not view this is not a short-term window for the club which is why they are willing to take a wait-and-see approach, especially with Insigne working his way back from a calf injury.
What do you think about TFC’s latest addition? Will it lead to success on the pitch? Let us know in the comments below.