TORONTO — The pending sale of influential midfielder Victor Vazquez wasn’t the only major revelation on the first day of Toronto FC’s pre-season training camp on Tuesday.
Star striker Sebastian Giovinco, who is entering the final year of his contract with TFC, told reporters there has been “serious talk” about another club being interested in him, but declined to give any further details.
“I try to honour my contract. We’ll see what happens. I want to stay here, but I hear something already this season [that] somebody wants to offer me to another team. [It] can be my last [year], or not. We’ll see,” Giovinco told reporters after Tuesday’s training session.
He later added: “I can’t say too much.”
Coach Greg Vanney said he hadn’t heard anything about another club contacting TFC about Giovinco.
“I don’t know if [TFC] was contacted. Personally, I’m not aware of it. If somebody at the club has heard then I’m not aware, but I don’t think so, because I usually hear about those things,” Vanney offered.
The club later stated they have not received any transfer offer from another club.
Giovinco, who turns 32 on Jan. 26, has established himself as one of the best players in MLS history during his four years in the league, providing Toronto with a glut of goals (73) and assists (57) in 125 regular-season and playoff appearances. He was also named league MVP in 2015.
The Italian forward made it clear he wants to remain in Toronto, and that his contract status won’t affect his attitude or commitment on the pitch during the upcoming MLS season.
“I’m a professional. [I’ve] demonstrated to everybody I’m a professional. I care about my team, I care about myself. For me, nothing changes,” Giovinco said.
Like Giovinco and captain Michael Bradley, forward Jozy Altidore is in the final year of his contract. Like Giovinco, he wants to stay with TFC.
“It’s bittersweet, in a way, because I don’t know what the future holds, but it doesn’t change anything for me. My relationship with the fans, it doesn’t make me want to play with any less emotion,” Altidore said.
Altidore, 29, was a key figure in Toronto’s historic, treble-winning campaign in 2017, scoring 17 goals and tallying six assists in 31 games across the regular season and playoffs.
But 2018 was a different story. Altidore missed much of the early portion of the year after having foot surgery, and he also dealt with a lingering ankle issue. As a result, he was limited to just 13 MLS appearances — although he still managed to score a respectable seven goals. In total, Altidore bagged 13 goals and tallied three assists in 24 appearances in MLS, the Canadian Championship and Concacaf Champions League in 2018.
Altidore said he is feeling healthy again after undergoing surgery to remove a bone fragment from his right ankle in the off-season.
“I’m fit. I’m just hungry, man. I can’t wait to get to BMO [Field] and score goals. I miss playing. I miss being here,” Altidore said.
Vanney doesn’t believe the contract status of his three designated players will detract from what they will be able to do on the field in 2018.
“It’s normal for players in the last years of their contracts to be looking at things. Hopefully, the work is being done by the agents and everything else, and the players are just focusing on their day-to-day work. These guys are professional in that way, and I don’t think it will be distraction in terms of their playing,” Vanney offered.