Toronto FC signs Juventus midfielder Giovinco


Sebastian Giovinco in action for Juventus. (Massimo Pinca/AP)

Toronto FC will announce Sebastian Giovinco as its newest player early next week, Sportsnet has learned.

TFC had been pursuing Giovinco, who is out of contract with Juventus at the end of the current Serie A season, for some time and recently tabled a contract offer to the Italian midfielder. Sources told Sportsnet that Giovinco has accepted TFC’s terms for a four-year deal after his representatives met with officials from the MLS club in Toronto this week, and that a formal announcement will be made either on Monday or Tuesday.

The same sources told Sportsnet that Giovinco had other contract offers from European clubs, but he decided to sign with Toronto FC after the team offered him “a truckload of money,” believed to be $7 million US per season. Giovinco is expected to finish out the current Serie A season with Juventus and officially join Toronto FC in July, but that could change.

Toronto FC declined to comment when contacted by Sportsnet. A source close to Michael Bradley said the TFC midfielder “is very happy” about the signing of Giovinco.

The Italian is coming in as a designated player, which brings Toronto’s number of DPs to four—Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore and Gilberto. Unless the new collective bargaining agreement, currently being negotiated between Major League Soccer and the players’ union, increases the DP limit to four per team, Toronto will likely have to sell one of them—in this case, most likely Gilberto. Another option is to use allocation money to pay down Gilberto’s contract to a non-DP level. Whatever TFC decides to do, it must be roster compliant by the start of the 2015 MLS season.

Giovinco, who turns 28 later this month, is a versatile player who can play as a striker, winger or attacking midfielder. Nicknamed the LA Formica Atomica (The Atomic Ant), he is a talented playmaker, renowned for his dribbling skills, passing range and free kick prowess.

A native of Turin, Giovinco has played for hometown Juventus since 2006, scoring 12 goals in 91 Serie A appearances. He spent one year on loan at Empoli, and another two campaigns on loan at Parma, where he scored a career-high 15 goals during the 2011-12 season.

He returned to Juventus and scored nine league goals over the past two Serie A campaigns. This year, he’s been limited to just six league appearances (with no goals), but he did bag a brace in Juventus’ 6-1 win over Hellas Verona in the Italian Cup earlier this week.

Giovinco has also scored one goal in 21 games for Italy, and played for his country at Euro 2012 when the Azzurri lost to Spain in the final, and at the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup. He missed out on playing for Italy at last summer’s World Cup in Brazil.

The Giovinco deal is just the latest major roster shakeup to take place at Toronto FC. On Friday, the club confirmed the transfer of English forward Jermain Defoe to English Premier League club Sunderland in return for American forward Jozy Altidore.

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