Toronto FC: Sebastian Giovinco departing club for Al-Hilal FC

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MONTREAL, QC - OCTOBER 21: Look on Toronto FC forward Sebastian Giovinco (10) during the Toronto FC versus the Montreal Impact game on October 21, 2018, at Stade Saputo in Montreal, QC (Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Toronto, Ontario, Canada — One of the most prolific strikers the MLS has ever seen is departing the league.

Toronto FC has sold striker Sebastian Giovinco to to Al-Hilal FC, a club based in Saudi Arabia. Giovinco arrived in Canada in 2015, making 142 appearances for the club. In his four years in MLS, Giovinco scored 83 goals. He also provided 64 assists, throughout all competitions including the regular season and playoffs.

The 32-year-old Italian formerly featured for Juventus. During his time with Juventus, from 2006-15, Giovinco spent some time on loan at Empoli and Parma. However, his numbers for Juventus include 93 appearances and 14 goals.

“I’d like to thank the fans and my teammates for four special years playing for Toronto FC,” Giovinco said, via a Toronto FC press release. “I’d also like to thank the club for helping me as I transition into the next phase of my career.”

Giovinco’s time at Toronto was filled with success.

In 2017, Giovinco and Toronto FC lifted the MLS Cup trophy over the Seattle Sounders. That season, Toronto qualified and reached the CONCACAF Champions League, which the team competed in during 2018.

In 2016 and 2018, Toronto FC won two Canadian Championship titles. However, in his first season in the league, Giovinco won the Landon Donovan MLS MVP award — in addition to winning the Golden Boot and Newcomer of the Year awards.

Meanwhile, Giovinco was an MLS Best XI member three times and during all four seasons, he was selected as an MLS All-Star.

Internationally, he has made 23 appearances for Italy, scoring his first and only international goal against Japan in the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup.

Giovinco releases his own statement

While Giovinco kept it short and sweet in the Toronto FC press release, he made sure to tell his side of the story in detail on his personal Instagram page.

Giovinco, who was rumored to leave Toronto FC camp early due to transfer rumors, released his post on Wednesday night. In the beginning, he explains his years with Toronto and recaps the success he had. Giovinco also noted that he “transformed TFC and made it one of the best clubs in MLS and in North America.” However, immediately, Giovinco thanked the fans for being supportive.

Then, he thanked Toronto for being his home for the last four years.

“As I have always maintained, I was hoping to renew my contract and finish my playing career in a city that feels like home,” Giovinco wrote. “It is here where my daughter was born and where my son took his first steps on a football pitch. A place my family loves to live and wanted to call home for good.”

However, Giovinco then dives deep into the problems. He explained that a renewed contract was not foreseeable due to a clash “with a change in direction with current TFC management.”

“Recently, after refusing to exercise the club option for 2020, I was offered terms that I deemed unacceptable,” Giovinco wrote. “They may say I left for a more lucrative deal, but this is not the case. 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.”

View this post on Instagram

Toronto has been home to me and my family for almost 5 years. I arrived here from Italy in January 2015 and immediately felt something special. From day one, I worked hard to repay the opportunity that Toronto had given me. From that first year, I realized that we could do great things here. Through hard work, passion and determination my teammates and I transformed TFC and made it one of the best clubs in MLS and in North America. We didn’t do this alone. Without our great fans this would not have been possible. I can confidently say that I significantly contributed in making unprecedented history at TFC. We wrote a new chapter in the club’s history, together. All for One. This journey has been a wonderful experience for my family and me. It’s without hesitation that I can say that I wanted it to end differently. As I have always maintained, I was hoping to renew my contract and finish my playing career in a city that feels like home. It is here where my daughter was born and where my son took his first steps on a football pitch. A place my family loves to live and wanted to call home for good. Unfortunately, this desire of ours has clashed with a change in direction with current TFC management. For the 2 years I have been seeking to extend my contract however management was reluctant. Recently, after refusing to exercise the club option for 2020, I was offered terms that I deemed unacceptable. They may say I left for a more lucrative deal, but this is not the case. 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. 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. I would have accepted less to stay in Toronto. Therefore, I reluctantly announce that my tenure as a TFC player has come to an end. I will now focus my attention and efforts towards another challenge. With me I bring beautiful memories. Toronto – the 6ix – you are and will always remain in my heart. Thank you for everything you have taught me about myself and about life. I love you Toronto! Seba

A post shared by Sebastian Giovinco (@sebagiovincoofficial) on

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Giovinco then wrote that he believes the management saw him as no longer serving a purpose to the club.

“I would have accepted less to stay in Toronto,” Giovinco wrote. “Therefore, I reluctantly announce that my tenure as a TFC player has come to an end. I will now focus my attention and efforts towards another challenge. With me I bring beautiful memories. Toronto… thank you for everything you have taught me about myself and about life.”

The Giovinco departure is happening less than a month after the hiring of Ali Curtis as general manager. Curtis was formerly the general manager of the New York Red Bulls from 2014-17. He left the club after clashing with former head coach Jesse Marsch.

Curtis helped propel the New York Red Bulls II, the club’s USL side.

Meanwhile, in the coming days, there will be discussions of the recent moves Toronto FC are making. The club losing Giovinco is a big deal and there are rumors floating around about Jozy Altidore potentially making a move to the Mexican league this summer.

Curtis also enacted the trade of Nick Hagglund to FC Cincinnati. In exchange, Toronto acquired $300,000 in allocation money and the No. 1 slot in the MLS Allocation Order. With that, Toronto could potentially be eyeing up former USMNT players like Fabian Johnson, Geoff Cameron and possibly Bobby Wood.

“This deal gives us flexibility on our budget both in the short and long term. In addition, the number one allocation ranking gives us the option of acquiring another player and/or asset either during this transfer window or in the summer,” Curtis said, via Toronto FC.

Curtis also traded Victor Vasquez to Al-Arabi SC in Qatar.

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