'I Would Have Accepted Less to Stay in Toronto' - Giovinco Bows Out of MLS

Reuters

Dejan Kalinic - GOAL

Sebastian Giovinco has made the move from Toronto to Saudi Arabian side Al-Hilal, the MLS club confirmed on Wednesday.

Giovinco, 32, joined Toronto from Juventus in 2015 and starred for the club, scoring 83 goals and providing 64 assists in 142 games in all competitions.

The Italian led the club to the Supporters' Shield and MLS Cup in 2017, while he was named the MLS MVP in 2015.

"I'd like to thank the fans and my team-mates for four special years playing for Toronto FC," Giovinco said in a statement.

 

"I'd also like to thank the club for helping me as I transition into the next phase of my career."

Toronto president Bill Manning paid tribute to Giovinco, labelling the forward the club's greatest ever player.

"This was an extremely emotional transaction for our club. We'd like to thank Seba for all he did for TFC during his time with the club," he said.

"He gave our fans many thrilling moments during his four years, especially during our championship season in 2017.

"He leaves Toronto as the greatest player in club history. We wish Seba and his family nothing but the best as he begins a new chapter."

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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

 

Giovinco later released a more detailed statement on Instagram, revealing that he would have preferred to remain in Toronto and was ultimately forced out of the club against his will.

"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 began. "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."

Two-time defending league champions Al-Hilal are three points clear atop the Saudi Professional League table this season.

They are also in Group C in the AFC Champions League and will face Al-Duhail, Al-Ain and Esteghlal in a competition they last won in 2000.