And TFC hope Giovinco - who will join Toronto FC in July on a free transfer from Juventus - will add a key element to their attacking look, something head coach Greg Vanney said was missing from his side last season.
“We looked at our roster as we moved into the offseason, and we all thought we need a player who can help us create in the attacking third, a player who can set other players up and give other players opportunities, but also create opportunities of his own.” Vanney said of the 5-foot-4 forward, nicknamed La Formica Atomica (the Atomic Ant). “We had a very, very short list of players who fit that mold, and Giovinco was right at the top of it.”
Giovinco’s Designed Player contract with TFC comes on the heels of a blockbuster signing of US international Jozy Altidore from Sunderland, currently giving the team four DPs along with fellow US international Michael Bradley and Brazilian Gilberto.
“With the addition of Jozy and his connection with Michael Bradley, we looked at our DPs to make sure those three players compliment each other,” Vanney said. “They are the core of our team on the field, and they need to be making decisions for us, driving us forward and creating for the supporting cast around them. Today, we are connecting all of our pieces: Michael plays deeper in midfield, Giovinco is our playmaker that connects us to the attacking half and Jozy finishes things off for us.”
Vanney said he sees Giovinco playing in a second-striker or attacking-midfield role, adding that the Italian is particularly adept at finding spaces in between lines and has the ability to run at defenders one-on-one, a trait he said makes him a “nightmare” for opposing defenders.
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And, at only 27 years old, he joins MLS in the prime of his career, something TFC general manager Tim Bezbatchenko said was “incredibly important” for his club’s long-term future.
“There’s a certain age where players go into their prime, and if you can get the core nucleus of your guys, especially your best players, your Designated Players, in their critical years, I think that speaks volumes to what the team can do,” Bezbatchenko said. “Our team can grow together. Jozy, Michael, Seba, Jonathan Osorio, these players in their mid to late 20s, that’s something different that this league has never seen. Speaking specifically about Sebastian, this is a moment and time in Major League Soccer where we’ve never signed a player from a top league and a top team that has come over at 27.
“This is a turning point for our league.”