Be it in January or in the summer, Sebastian Giovinco is going to Major League Soccer. Giovinco's ever-so-talkative agent and the Juventus management can work all the particulars out, but we know one thing is for certain -- Giovinco's time as a Juve player are dwindling as each day passes.
That means, sooner (January) or later (July), Giovinco will be rocking the red Toronto FC jersey and officially start receiving some of the massive contract he has agreed to earlier this week. And with the change in scenery comes an adjustment to life -- both in terms of football and personally -- outside of Italy for the first time.
What does MLS have in store for Giovinco? What kind of adjustments might Giovinco have to make as he embarks on a rather large change in his career as he gets ready to ring in his 28th birthday?
All valid concerns and questions, right?
We sent a couple questions over to Mitchell over at Waking the Red, SB Nation's Toronto FC blog, to see what he thinks about TFC's newest big-money striker acquisition. Here's what he said to say.
BWRAO: Hey, Mitchell! Thanks for taking some time to talk Giovinco-TFC with us. Let's get right to it. First question: Outside of the nice pay raise, what do you think the appeal of Toronto FC was for Sebastian Giovinco?
WTR: I think the pay raise is a large part of it for sure, but not the entire reason. Playing time is a part of it as well. He is guaranteed to get as much playing time as he wants in Toronto. This wasn't guaranteed with Arsenal or another one of the European clubs. The Italian community in Toronto is also very strong, which will give him a home away from home vibe. For a player who has played his entire career in Italy, this is crucial to help him transition into life in North America.
BWRAO: For the Serie A follower who isn't so familiar with MLS and thinks this is a huge step down for Giovinco, what would you say to them to make them think otherwise?
WTR: Not much, he is taking a pretty big step down. However, I have yet to hear a player say that MLS is an overrated league. Everyone is always surprised at the overall quality of the league. Plus, Giovinco isn't the only player who fans were "surprised" came to the league. Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard (maybe), David Villa, Brek Shea, Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey, Jermain Jones, Michael Bradley and Jermain Defoe have all made the league better. This, plus better development systems and more interested. There is an argument to be made that no league has made a stronger step forward in the past 10 years than MLS. It shows no signs of stopping, either.
BWRAO: This isn't the first time TFC has made a splash with a high-priced striker signing. What makes you think this might be different than the Jermain Defoe acquisition?
WTR: That's the same question that was asked of Toronto FC GM Tim Bezbatchenko at Giovinco's introductory press conference. What he cited was the fact that they filled Giovinco in on all the obscurities of MLS. He also mentioned that fact that Giovinco is more than ready to take on the "project" that is MLS. I also think the club learned a lot with the Jermain Defoe situation that will help them better handle Giovinco.
BWRAO: What could give Giovinco problems as he adjusts to the style of play in MLS?
WTR: The league is fairly North American as a whole, which means big and tough trumps skill. Giovinco will be subject to a lot of harsh tackles and hulking athletic defenders. He won't necessarily get the protection of referees, either, which was something Toronto companies about with Defoe. There is also travel, another difference. Players from Europe are used to minimal travel and MLS will have plenty of it. Toronto will travel longer for most league games than Juventus would have to for any European fixture. Finally, there are a number of bizarre aspects to MLS, including the All-Star game and midseason friendlies against European teams.
BWRAO: Here's the ultimate big picture question: How do you think Giovinco will do in MLS?
WTR: I really do like his chances even with all of the potential downfalls I mentioned above. He is a highly talented and motivated player who is exactly what Toronto need. He will have a couple of fine complementary players in the midfield: including Jonathan Osorio and Michael Bradley. Ahead of him he will have Jozy Altidore and possibly Gilberto, two players with the potential to score several goals. Toronto will make his position as optimal as possible and he should deliver in return.
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