Lorenzo Insigne has agreed to join Toronto FC when his contract at Napoli expires at the end of the season.
The Canadian club completed the signing of Insigne earlier this month, agreeing a pre-contract with the Italy international that will see him move to the MLS in July on a free transfer, with reports suggesting he will be on a bumper £11m-a-year wage package — the highest ever in the competition’s history.
A shrewd albeit costly move from Bob Bradley’s side, who have captured a player very much in the prime stages of his career and who is now set to end an emotional 16-year spell at his boyhood club, whom he currently captains and has done so officially since Marek Hamsik departed in 2019.
It doesn’t take a state-of-the-art scouting network to establish the quality of Insigne, which may explain Toronto FC president Bill Manning’s decision to take matters into his own hands, channeling his inner ‘Football Manager’ to land the Euro 2020 winner.
Following a disappointing 2021 MLS campaign which saw the club finish second-last in the Eastern Conference, Manning sought to improve the Reds’ fortunes by, well, spending a fortune.
Insigne’s contract is alleged to be over double that of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s salary when he was turning out for LA Galaxy — a ‘small’ price to pay when you’re getting a player on a free transfer.
And that is a scenario that has transpired after Manning happened to stumble across well-known football website Transfermarkt.
“I looked up the Italian national team on what players were coming out of contract,” Manning said via The Toronto Sun.
“And Lorenzo Insigne was one of a few players that was coming out of contract. And I started writing down players that I thought were world class, that I thought would have commercial value in this market.
“I then presented to the MLSE board a five-year vision on what we need to do to reinvigorate our club. And Lorenzo Insigne was the first name on that list.”
After getting in touch with Italian agent Andrea D’Amico as to whether Insigne would be interested in crossing the Atlantic and testing his luck in Major League Soccer, Manning said talks just accelerated from there.
“And things just started snowballing from there,” Manning added. “When (D’Amico) made his first phone call with (Insigne’s agent) Vincenzo (Pisacane), Andrea called me back and said: ‘Bill, it’s destiny, we’re going to make this happen.’ And that was back in September.
“This is a player in the prime of his career who just came off wining the European Championship… and has continued this year to play at a very high level.
“We’ve had a lot of famous players and amazing players come into this league but a player with his credentials and of his calibre in the prime of his career I’m not sure we’ve seen yet.”