An all-time MLS great is leaving the league.
Toronto FC has sold Sebastian Giovinco to Al-Hilal, ending the Italian’s torrential time in Major League Soccer.
It’s not hyperbole to say that Giovinco helped reshape the image of MLS.
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TFC general manager Ali Curtis called Giovinco “any GM’s dream” and addressed the challenges of replacing him via TorontoFC.ca:
“We believe in consistency, so this transfer hits hard in a lot of places. I have so much respect for Sebastian as a player and what he has meant to the organization. His departure presents both challenges and opportunities. Obviously, 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 who will be an exciting addition to our team.”
Now 32, Giovinco arrived at TFC from Juventus in 2015 and debuted at the age of 28. He led TFC to its first MLS Cup, scoring 83 goals with 51 assists in 142 matches.
Toronto was 1W-5L without Giovinco last season, missing the MLS Playoffs by 14 points.
Giovinco was a force in the club’s run to the CONCACAF Champions League Final, spearheaded their Canadian Championship win, and managed 18 goals and 14 assists in 38 matches across all competitions.
The move does open a Designated Player spot for new Reds general manager Ali Curtis.
Al-Hilal is the home of ex-Premier League players Andre Carrillo and Bafetimbi Gomis.
Sebastian Giovinco has one year left on his Toronto FC contract, but also wants his next contract sorted quickly.
That may mean a move abroad, as the Italian wizard considers interest from Saudi Arabian side Al-Hilal.
Selling Giovinco would allow TFC to cash in on their star, and may also prod Jozy Altidore to the door — Liga MX? — ahead of a new contract as Ali Curtis reshapes the championship team reared by Tim Bezbatchenko.
Al-Hilal is managed by former Benfica and Sporting Lisbon boss Jorge Jesus, and has Bafetimbi Gomis, Andre Carrillo, and Jonathan Soriano on the books.
The move comes as Toronto is linked with oft-injured Darmstadt striker Terrence Boyd. The Reds acquired the top spot in the allocation order from FC Cincinnati this week in a trade for Nick Hagglund, and USMNT striker Boyd is believed to require allocation to arrive in MLS.
Boyd, 27, was one of the top American talents abroad when he sealed a 2014 move to RB Leipzig following a standout pair of seasons at Rapid Wien, but has played just 43 times for RBL and Darmstadt.
He scored four times in 24 Bundesliga matches during the club’s 2017-18 relegation campaign, but counts just one appearance of more than 15 minutes amongst his 13 times on the field for the 2.Bundesliga side.
Boyd was last capped in 2016.
Make sure to tune-in for our special Transfer Deadline Day show on NBCSN on Thursday, Jan. 31 from 5 p.m. ET as we focus on all of the moves across the Premier League in the January window. You can stream the show live online right here.