Lorenzo Insigne may be considered one of Major League Soccer’s most important signings, but the Italy international shrugged off the notion that he was under any pressure when Toronto FC presented their award-winning signing on Monday.
MLS has seen a flurry of big-name signings in recent months, including Wales international Gareth Bale, who joined LAFC on Monday after leaving La Liga champions Real Madrid.
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But it’s Toronto FC’s ability to secure a talent like Insigne, 31, at their peak that is being recognized as a watershed moment for MLS as they attempt to shake off a reputation as a well-paid last stop for declining international players. their careers.
“As soon as we signed Lorenzo, our profile was raised,” said Toronto FC chairman Bill Manning. “We’re seeing interest in our club from abroad in a way like we’ve never seen before.
“We’ve had a number of good players sign with this club, but none of this magnitude.
“We have a lot of ambition at our club and we really envision over the next four or five years that Lorenzo will be a fundamental piece.”
Landing someone of Insigne’s quality doesn’t come cheap, with Toronto fending off several European clubs for the Napoli captain’s services and luring him to North America on a four-year contract worth 15 million dollars per season.
Chicago Fire FC Swiss striker Xherdan Shaqiri currently tops the MLS salary list with $8.15 million.
With Insigne becoming the highest-paid player in MLS, Toronto and its fans will expect a return on that investment, as will the league looking to attract more players of its quality.
If Insigne was feeling the pressure, it didn’t show when the Italian, dressed in a crisp white jacket and sparkling diamond stud earrings, took the stage to confront the Canadian media for the first time.
“I played for 10 years for Napoli and the Italian national team. I won the European Cup (European Championship) so I have no problem being under pressure,” Insigne told reporters. journalists through an interpreter. “I’d rather my actions speak for me on the pitch.
“I made the decision not for the money but to find a new life for my family and my children.”
Insigne signed with Toronto in January and, after seeing out his contract with Napoli, will play his first match for the Canadian club at home on July 9 against the San Jose Earthquakes.
Toronto FC manager Bob Bradley hopes Insigne, who have won the Coppa Italia twice in Napoli, can add spark to a side that have lacked consistency, sitting 11th in the FC the East to 14 teams after 16 games.
“I won a lot with Napoli and I also lost but I wanted a change and above all a challenge,” said Insigne, who played 54 times for Italy. “I want people to like me and understand me better with my action on the pitch.”