Blog Written by Benjamin Santilli (@Bsantilli27):
Sebastian Giovinco has taken Major League Soccer by storm since joining Toronto FC in early 2015 from Italian giants Juventus. The 29 year old has scored an unbelievable 28 goals in just 42 appearances for the Canadian side, which also features US National team stars Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley, who spent time at AS Roma. Giovinco made the journey to North America as part of a recent wave of European stars such as Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, David Villa and his former Juventus teammate Andrea Pirlo, who are all towards the end of their careers and looking to ride off into the sunset. Giovinco however, does not fit this profile.
In two terms at Parma FC on loan from Juventus, Seba scored 22 goals in 66 appearances. During the 2010-2011 season, Giovinco scored 7 goals, 3 of which, happened to be against his parent club Juve. Manager Antonio Conte used him sparingly upon joining Juventus. Often players like Alessandro Matri, Fabio Quagliarella and Fernando Llorente were favored as complements to players like Carlos Tevez, Alessandro Del Piero and Mirko Vucinic. He arrived at BMO Stadium young, ambitious, and eager to prove his talent. He was accepted with open arms in Toronto and made an immediate impact. The Torino native is often referred to as La Formica Atomica (The Atomic Ant). Though Giovinco stands at a mere 5 feet 4 inches tall, he packs a bundle of talent into his small frame. His assets include excellent speed, tactical understanding, and the artistic control that makes his free kicks a nightmare for MLS goalkeepers. His work rate is impressive and his hunger to score makes him dangerous at all times in all areas of the pitch. His versatility allows him to fit into almost any coaches’ side seamlessly. He is a valuable commodity for any club who is willing to give him the chance.
His talent is certainly under appreciated by many coaches who view his size as the biggest detriment to his skill. His numbers show quite the contrary. His effectiveness can be found in his goal and assist numbers per game. So far in MLS, Giovinco has scored an impressive 28 goals and 17 assists in 42 appearances (per whoscored.com) in just over one full season in Toronto. That is an impressive 0.7 goals per game. At Parma, he averaged one goal in every 3 appearances in Serie A. However, for Juve, his production levels were not nearly as high. As a member of the Bianconeri, he was used sporadically in games primarily coming on as a sub without much time to perform. In North America, the Atomic Ant has found new life. His speed and quickness, nightmares for a defender, create new space for him to produce at astronomical rates. Despite playing in MLS, he has garnered the attention of fans and people around the world for his spectacular playmaking ability. He earned MLS MVP honors, the MLS Golden Boot and shattered Chris Wondolowski’s single season points record along with many other accolades. He was also named to the MLS All-Star team and the Best XI for 2015.
Now, with Euro 2016 fast approaching, Italian National team manager Antonio Conte will have many tough decisions to make. In the mix for for the Azzurri will be renowned names in football such as Napoli’s Lorenzo Insigne, AC Milan’s Mario Balotelli and Southampton’s Graziano Pellè. The full list of potential strikers includes:
Sebastian Giovinco is up against some stiff competition for a position in the final 23. These final weeks before the final cuts will be very important for a fringe player like Giovinco, it's chance his to show Conte that he is up to the task. If he makes the Azzurri side, it will do wonders for MLS and if he plays, it will draw even more attention to the league for having one of their star players at the pinnacle of European international football. More players may be willing to join MLS in the years ahead and the talent pool in the league will continue to add more quality to its ranks. The league will continue its trend upward regardless of whether Seba is given an Azzurri shirt in June, but it would certainly make a statement that top quality European players can be found in MLS and Giovinco is definitely deserving of a chance. His success since he left Juventus in February 2015 has shown that he can make the best out of any situation and he has world-class talent, which he has utilized to dominate MLS. Conte knows him very well from watching him every day in training at Vinovo for The Old Lady in Torino which could give the short man a big advantage. The biggest question is not whether Giovinco is capable of outperforming his size, but whether or not he will be able to use his great skills impress enough to earn his place on one of the most successful national sides in world football.