Soccer-Insigne arrival could bring in new era of MLS transfers, says Toronto president

Written by on January 8, 2022

January 8, 2022

By Frank Pingue

TORONTO (Reuters) – Toronto FC’s ability to land Lorenzo Insigne during his prime has obliterated any notion that Major League Soccer (MLS) is merely a final stop for international players on the downside of their careers, the Canadian club’s president said on Saturday.

Toronto FC President Bill Manning, speaking on a video call to discuss Insigne’s four-year contract which will begin on July 1, said he expected the signing of the Napoli captain to have a trickle-down effect across MLS.

“Our league has grown to a point where a player like Lorenzo, a world-class player in the prime of his career, is willing to come here and play the next four seasons,” Manning told reporters. “I do think other teams will take notice and I think that’s where our league is going to go.”

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed but a report on the MLS website said Italian international Insigne, who will be one of the league’s most prominent players when he arrives, would earn upwards of $15 million, pre-tax, per season.

MLS has done well in recent years to shed its reputation as a so-called retirement league for high-profile players who plied their trade elsewhere and Insigne, 30, could prove to be one of the most consequential transfers in league history.

“You’ve seen world-class players come here, maybe a bit past their prime. Now you are going to start seeing players coming in their prime,” Manning told reporters. “The resources in this league are unparalleled across the world in terms of our ownership and for me this was the next step.”

Manning called the signing of Insigne, who helped Italy to win the European Championship in July, a good business decision both competitively and commercially and fully expects other MLS clubs to seek big-name talent given the 2026 World Cup will be staged in Canada, Mexico and the United States.

“Certainly if Lorenzo is as successful as we think he will be I do think other clubs with ambitious ownerships will take that next step and I do think you are going to see more world-class players come into this league as we lead up to World Cup ’26,” said Manning.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; editing by Clare Fallon)

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