Italian star Lorenzo Insigne and TFC hit deal for exceptional deal: reports

It seems that Toronto FC has managed to attract Italian star Lorenzo Insigne.

Reports from Italy suggest a deal has been reached between the MLS club and the Napoli striker, with sports TV channel Sportitalia saying an official announcement is expected on Saturday.

A source, not authorized to comment on the negotiations, said it was a “likely” timetable. Although nothing has yet been signed, talks were in “final stages,” the source told The Canadian Press.

“It’s anything but done,” the source said.

CBC Sports has not independently confirmed the information.

Canadian taxes apparently prolonged the marathon talks.

Insigne, who turns 31 on June 4, is expected to join Toronto in July when his current contract expires.

The Napoli captain represents a swing for the fences for a Toronto side looking to regain their winning ways after a dismal 6-18-10 season in 2021.

The Italian, a native of Napoli who made his first-team debut for Napoli in 2009, comes with a golden resume.

Insigne made his debut for Italy in 2012 and has 10 goals in 53 appearances. He started for the Azzurri in their Euro 2020 final victory over England and also played for his country in the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016.

Pay big contracts

TFC are also linked with 28-year-old Turin striker Andrea Belotti, another Italy international whose contract with the club expires this summer.

Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, owner of Toronto FC, has reportedly tapped into his well-stocked wallet to secure Insignia with a long-term contract that will make him the highest-paid player in the league by far.

Los Angeles FC forward Carlos Vela led the league last season with $ 6.3 million.

MLSE is no stranger to big ticket items.

Raptors star Pascal Siakam is making $ 33 million this season. Maple Leaf forwards Auston Matthews ($ 10.47 million), Mitch Marner ($ 10.36 million) and John Tavares ($ 9.35 million) total $ 30.178 million this season.

At five feet four inches and 130 pounds, Insigne is small but packs a punch. He can play offensive all over the pitch, but is often deployed as a left winger where he can use his speed, ball skills, and powerful shot to good effect.

Rebuilding after a disappointing season

Champions in 2017 and finalists in 2016 and 2019, Toronto finished 26th out of 27 teams last year. The vast majority of the franchise’s subscription base has chosen to forgo the little of the season that has been played out in Toronto, put off by the pandemic and the dismal performance of the team on the pitch.

Instead, they’ve put their hopes – and their investment in tickets – into the 2022 season.

Bob Bradley was hired in the offseason to lead the rebuild as head coach and athletic director.

To make room for Insigne, Toronto will need to get rid of one of its three nominated players – with more movement likely needed if Belotti comes on board as well. While Spain’s playmaker Alejandro Pozuelo, the league’s 2020 MVP, seems determined to stay, US international striker Jozy Altidore and Venezuela winger Yeferson Soteldo both appear open to a decision.

Altidore, 32, spent almost two months away from the club last season.

After totaling 56 goals in his first five seasons in Toronto, injured Altidore has only scored six in the past two seasons, including four in 2021.

Altidore has something else in mind. He and tennis star Sloane Stephens posted their wedding photo on social media on Tuesday.

The 24-year-old Soteldo, meanwhile, seemed at times unhappy with his first year with the club. He tallied three goals and 10 assists in 24 MLS games after leaving Brazil’s Santos to come to the north.

Pozuelo, 30, who placed fourth in the league with a salary of $ 4.693 million, scored one goal and four assists in an injury-interrupted season that saw him play in just 19 matches.

Altidore placed seventh in the league last season with $ 3.6 million while Soteldo earned $ 1.965 million.

TFC could sell both DPs. It is also authorized a single buyout out of season, without counting the ceiling “salary budget”.

Toronto has made waves with signings from designated players in the past.

Could Giovinco come back?

His Italian compatriot Sebastian Giovinco, like Pozuelo, won MVP honors in the colors of the TFC.

Giovinco moved on to greener pastures after the 2018 season, but still has a home in Toronto. Known as the atomic ant, the little Italian who turns 35 later this month has said he would like to return.

In January 2014, there was the much-vaunted ‘Big Bloody Deal’ when TFC signed both England star Jermain Defoe and USA international Michael Bradley, son of Bob Bradley. Defoe, who was 31 at the time, lasted a season before returning home while Bradley, who was 26 when he arrived in Canada, became TFC captain.

At some $ 10 million each, Defoe and Bradley each broke the MLS record for transfer fees. Their combined cost doubled the expansion fee paid by MLSE before entering the league in 2007.

MLS requires teams to meet a salary budget of $ 4.9 million in 2021. But the maximum salary for a Designated Player was $ 612,500, anything over that amount does not count towards the cap.

Giovinco earned $ 7.1 million in his final year with Toronto.

Altidore and Stephens tied the knot on New Years Day

Tennis star Sloane Stephens and footballer Jozy Altidore have tied the knot.

Stephens and Altidore posted a wedding photo on their Instagram accounts on Tuesday. The wedding took place on Saturday at the St. Regis Bal Harbor in Miami Beach, Florida, according to People magazine.

The couple announced their engagement on Twitter in April 2019 with a photo showing her wearing a diamond ring. His tweet read: “Forever yes” and his: “Forever begins now.”

Stephens, 28, won the 2017 US Open and was a finalist at Roland Garros 2018, semi-finalist at the 2013 Australian Open and quarter-finalist at Wimbledon in 2013.

Altidore, 32, has been with Toronto FC in Major League Soccer since 2015 after stints with New York Red Bulls (2006-08), Spaniard Villarreal (2008-11) and Xerez (2009), English Hull (2009-10) and Sunderland (2013-15), the Turkish Bursaspor (2011) and the Dutch AZ Alkmaar (2011-13).

He has 42 goals in 115 appearances for the United States but has not played for the national team since the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup final.

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