Last summer UEFA has finally managed to hold the finals of Euro-2020, in which the national team of Italy won. As part of Squadra Azzurra, a 30-year-old winger of Napoli, Lorenzo Insigne, received a gold medal after participating in 6 matches during the tournament and scoring 2 goals. At the beginning of the year, this midfielder has surprised many football and football bets fans by agreeing on a preliminary contract with Canadian Toronto, who compete in overseas MLS.
Lorenzo Insigne and the reasons for leaving Napoli
Lorenzo Insigne was born and raised in Napoli, where he took his first steps in professional football as part of the team. Currently, the winger has competed in 418 games as part of Napoli, during which he scored 115 goals and made 91 assists. All of this makes Insigne one of the iconic members of the teams in the eyes of the fans.
Napoli and Toronto are two polar opposite cities. Anyone who lived in the first one for some time states that it’s laced with chaos and manic energy. On the contrary, in the latter one life flows slowly, considering that it’s one of the biggest metropolises in Canada. So, what pushed Lorenzo to change his life path so drastically and deny himself the possibility to gracefully end his career in his native city?
The priority here, unsurprisingly for such a situation, is money. Insigne’s contract with Napoli is finishing this summer, so he spent a lot of time in talks with team management about contract renewal. According to unofficial information, the club was willing to sign a new contract with Lorenzo, as a result of which he’d play for 4 seasons and earn 3,5 million dollars a year. Insigne himself didn’t want to lower his salary at Napoli, amounting to 5 million euros. This resulted in misunderstanding among them.
Actually, the latter was used by Toronto’s management when the Canadian club offered Insigne 11,5 million euros excluding bonuses. This is a colossal sum of money by the MLS standard, where the Canadian club performed the worst last year. Additionally, the Toronto contract duration was the same as the one offered by Napoli, 4 years. This was a deciding factor for the Italian, and he has signed the papers.
Obviously, Canadians are taking a significant risk by offering such a high pay rate and long contract duration to a player who spent his entire career in Italy. However, this deal has more pros than cons. First of all, the MLS club hires a player who’s still young enough to continue the career. He isn’t some 37-year-old veteran who’s aiming to spend a couple of years at an overseas tournament, virtually show himself off in exhibition matches, earn some money, and then contently announce the end of his career.
Insigne will turn only 31 at the beginning of June, and most experts agree that his departure to Toronto should be embarrassing to both Napoli and Serie A. Specifically, according to Wyscout analytics, currently Insigne is the season leader of Italian championship in an average number of passes (3,28 in 90 minutes). He’s followed by Antonio Candreva from Sampdoria (2,25) in 2nd place. Additionally, Lorenzo is in 3rd place in terms of average smart passes (1,84, only surpassed by Ilicic from Atalanta with the score of 2,21 and Ibrahimovic from Milan with a score of 1,92) and deep passes (2,73, lower than Ilicic’s score of 3,02 and Duricic from Sassuolo with a score of 2,87).
Everything points at Insigne being able to perform at the highest level by Serie A standards for at least a few years, but he’s leaving to Toronto without receiving a decent offer from Napoli. However, you shouldn’t blame the football player alone by accusing him of selling out, since, according to rumours, Lorenzo simply wanted to receive a new contract with old terms. But Neapolitans have decided to discuss lowering his pay.
Fan reaction to Lorenzo Insigne leaving
Many Napoli fans are already blaming the club owner and president Aurelio De Laurentiis for practically pushing Insigne towards leaving the club. Considering that Hirving Lozano allegedly gets paid 5 to 7 million euros with bonuses, it was a strange move to offer half of this sum to a year-long team leader. Moreover, in Naples, many think that the club should do everything in its power for Insigne to finish his career in their team by becoming a real legend for the next generations of supporters.
That’s why Napoli’s offer to lower the pay is seen as a joke, even by the supporters, which explains why the winger denied such change. Lorenzo is fully aware of the fact that an English player David Beckham went overseas to finish his career with LA Galaxy at the same age of 32. Obviously, a successful path of Manchester United’s and Real’s ex-halfback at MLS has given an idea to many European football stars to show themselves off at this league, where mostly bright and beautiful games with tricks, to-the-point passes, and amazing goals are valued. Insigne could well create such a show overseas, so there’s no reason to worry about his future in this championship.
According to various sources, many other successful Serie A players could follow Insigne to Toronto, above all, Torino’s 28-year-old forward Andrea Belotti and Genoa’s 35-year-old defender Domenico Criscito. If Canadians manage to enforce their team like this, MLS will probably aim at returning the status of the division’s best team. Especially since Toronto already won the MLS championship in 2017.
However, even without Criscito or Belotti Toronto has already received a player that can lead the game. Insigne is someone who can perform as a connecting piece between defence and attack, and he can become a sort of connecting factor among all players.
Club bosses are probably expecting to try to solve another issue faced by Toronto last year by inviting the Italian. We’re talking about low attendance at home games. The club expects to increase the number of sold season tickets, as well as to attract extra attention to the games from the Italian diaspora in the city.
Obviously, investing in Insigne is a good marketing and football move from the Toronto management side. However, Napoli’s year-long leader departure will clearly become one of the main disappointments of the year, even though there’s only been a month since the year has started…