Sebastian Giovinco berates Toronto FC for its handling of contract impasse
Toronto FC forward Sebastian Giovinco (10) leaves the game during first half Campeones Cup soccer action against the UANL Tigres in Toronto on Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018. Giovinco's future with Toronto FC was up in the air Wednesday with a source confirming that the MLS club had received an offer for the Italian. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, January 31, 2019 9:09AM EST
TORONTO -- Sebastian Giovinco made sure he left Toronto FC on his own terms, turning to social media within hours of his sale to Saudi Arabia club Al-Hilal FC on Wednesday to berate the MLS club's handling of his contract impasse.
The star striker called his four seasons in Toronto "a wonderful experience for my family and me."
"It's without hesitation that I can say that I wanted it to end differently," he said in an Instagram post. "As I have always maintained, I was hoping to renew my contract and finish my playing career in a city that feels like home."
The 32-year-old Italian topped the MLS player payroll at US$7.115 million last season. TFC says it offered him a new deal that would keep him in the league's top six or seven -- which would make it at least $5 million by 2018 numbers.
Giovinco said he and his family loved living in Toronto and he wanted to finish his playing career there.
"Unfortunately, this desire of ours has clashed with a change in direction with current TFC management," he wrote. "For the two 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."
The posting was accompanied by a photo of a jubilant Giovinco celebrating Toronto's 2017 MLS Cup win with the Philip F. Anschutz Trophy on his head.
Toronto had already turned down one bid for the Atomic Ant from a Middle East club. But facing a stalemate in contact negotiations, it got what it could for Giovinco on Wednesday with the January FIFA transfer window about to close.
Toronto did not provide details of the transfer fee. But Al-Hilal, a 15-time Saudi champion, said Giovinco had signed a three-year deal in Los Angeles.
"Welcome Giovinco," the Riyadh-based club said in a social media video posting that turned Giovinco's Toronto red into its uniform blue.