Record goalscorer moves to Saudi Arabian club Al-Hilal
The Sebastian Giovinco era in Toronto is over
Toronto FC’s all-time leading scorer Sebastian Giovinco has left the club to join Saudi club Al-Hilal.
The Italy international scored 83 goals during his MLS career. Toronto had already turned down one bid for the Atomic Ant from a Middle East club. But facing an impasse in contract negotiations, it got what it could for Giovinco on Wednesday with the January FIFA transfer window about to close.
The former MLS MVP had missed pre-season training this week in California. With a club spokesman saying the 32-year-old Italian international had been excused due to “leg tightness.”
But Giovinco, whose MLS contract was expiring at the end of the 2019 season, was unhappy with the progress of contract negotiations. His camp rattled the cage. And a winning bid with money to spend emerged.
“I’d like to thank the fans and my team-mates for four special years playing for Toronto FC,” said former Juventus forward Giovinco.
“I’d also like to thank the club for helping me as I transition into the next phase of my career.
Toronto general manager Ali Curtis said: “Replacing a player like Sebastian is difficult.
“But we are working diligently and are confident that we will be adding a new designated player in the near future.”
However, things have quickly turned ugly. Giovinco has blasted Toronto FC management. He said that he didn’t trust the MLS team to tell the truth about his departure and that he was willing to take less money to stay in the city.
“They may say I left for a more lucrative deal. But this is not the case,” Giovinco said in a lengthy Instagram post. “I would have accepted less to stay in Toronto.”
Giovinco said he has been trying to get a contract extension for two years without success.
“I can say that I wanted it to end differently,” he said. “I was offered terms that I deemed unacceptable. Their offer and lack of transparency is a clear message. It seems management prefers to focus on things other than the pure desire to win.”
The Canadian and US media reported that the Saudi Professional League team paid a transfer fee of between $2 million and $3 million.
“After having grown the brand and elevating the overall reputation of TFC both at home and abroad. It seems I no longer serve a purpose,” he bristled.
Giovinco wears his heart on his sleeve. He had made it clear that he wanted the matter resolved quickly. Toronto wanted a happy Giovinco but was not going to fling money at him given his age.
Plus Toronto knew he was able to sign a pre-contract with another club come July.
At his best, Giovinco was clearly Toronto FC’s finest player ever and perhaps the best player in MLS. Juventus’ loss was MLS’ gain. As he came on board in 2015, terrorizing defenders with his pace and guile.
He went on to win the MLS MVP award along with the Newcomer of the Year award in 2015.