Lorenzo Insigne's Toronto FC debut to be delayed by calf injury

Newly signed Italian star forward Lorenzo Insigne poses in Toronto FC colours at the TFC training centre in Toronto. (Neil Davidson/CP)

Toronto FC coach Bob Bradley says a calf injury will likely delay Italian star Lorenzo Insigne's debut until July 23.

The former Napoli captain and fellow Italian Domenico Criscito have been waiting for Thursday's official opening of the MLS's secondary transfer window. Both are eligible to play Saturday when Toronto (5-10-3) hosts the visiting San Jose Earthquakes (4-7-6).

But Insigne, who becomes one of TFC's designated players, has been dealing with a calf injury suffered in Europe.

"In the periods now where he's been on the field there's been discomfort and so he's been taken off the field," Bradley said after training Wednesday.

"My guess is that it is going to take a few weeks to get him ready," he added. "I think a realistic target is going to be July 23. That's not official. There's always hope that things can move faster."

July 23 is when Toronto hosts Charlotte FC. If that timeline continues, the 31-year-old Insigne will miss league games against San Jose, Chicago and Montreal.

While Insigne's salary has not been disclosed, he will become the league's highest-paid player, surpassing Chicago Fire star Xherdan Shaqiri's US$8.15 million this season.

The 35-year-old Criscito, a defender who was formerly captain of Genoa, has been training with the team.

There has been drama with Toronto's two other designated players, with Alejandro Pozuelo on the move to Inter Miami CF and Caros Salcedo dealing with a personal issue.

While the deal to send Pozuelo has yet to Miami to be formally announced, the former league MVP was seen saying his farewells Wednesday at Toronto's training centre.

Pozuelo, with two of his sons in tow, exchanged hugs with Canadian midfielder Jonathan Osorio before driving away with his father in a Mercedes. The Sunshine State awaits the Spanish playmaker.

Pozuelo's trade to Miami is working its way through the league office, with Toronto expected to receive a modest amount of allocation money in return.

Of greater consequence, the deal clears salary cap space and a designated player spot for Toronto. At $4.69 million, Pozuelo was the league's fourth-highest paid player according to figures released in April by the MLS Players Association.

"Details on Ali's situation are still not 100 per cent so I don't have any further comment," Bradley said.

Toronto, continuing a rebuild that has seen some 20 first-team players exit after a dismal 6-18-10 season last year, has its sights on attacking midfielder Federico Bernardeschi, a 28-year-old Italian international who is out of contract after five seasons with Juventus.

"There is a lot going on," said Bradley, who doubles as the team's sporting director. "In a way it's normal as we approach the opening of the international (transfer) window and the opening of the (MLS) trade window. A lot of discussions and we'll see how some details work out."

Salcedo was back with the team Wednesday after returning from Mexico where his wife recently gave birth to their daughter some weeks ago. The club has not disclosed the issue Salcedo is dealing with.

"We continue to support him," Bradley said.

Designated players come with salary cap relief, with no more than $612,500 of their pay counting against a team's $4.9 million salary budget. Only $306,250 of Insigne's salary will count against the cap because of his late arrival.

Pozuelo, who won league MVP honours in 2020, is out of contract this summer.

Meanwhile, Toronto midfielder Noble Okello was seen training on his own Wednesday in his injury comeback. The 21-year-old Canadian has not played since March 12.

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