America’s Major League Soccer (MLS) has been long branded as a retirement home for ageing European footballers. When stars, especially those from Europe, find themselves on the precipice of retirement, MLS provides them with a gateway to one final professional endeavour and paycheck.
And among the latest participants of this seemingly lucrative trend, is allegedly Italian forward Lorenzo Insigne.
The Euro 2020 winner, who is only 30, will be out of contract at his current club Napoli by the end of this season. And as no imminent deal is in place to retain him at Naples, questions have emerged with regard to his next destination, with reports in the US suggesting a move to MLS side Toronto already in place.
Understandably, Twitterati was quick to weigh in on the debate, resulting in a plethora of mixed reactions.
With reports claiming Insigne’s signing to be a record-breaking one, some fans see his arrival resulting in a massive boost for MLS, given the Italian’s stature.
Lorenzo Insigne is biggest MLS signing since Carlos Vela.— MLS Transfers (@MLSTransfers) December 28, 2021
However, as is often the case, there were others who weren’t impressed with the move as much. Fans were decrying the fact that Insigne, only 30, still playing at the highest level, should choose the easy route towards playing in America, a move described as “incomprehensible shame” by a fan.
I'm really uncomfortable with the idea that Lorenzo Insigne could, at 30/31, go to Toronto.— Conor Clancy (@ConJClancy) December 28, 2021
He was a huge part of Italy winning Euro 2020 just months ago. He's a brilliant footballer. To go to MLS now would be a huge and incomprehensible shame.
I am asking politely and respectfully: Why is Lorenzo Insigne, who is still playing at a top level, looking at moving to MLS?— Sam Tighe – Ranks FC Podcast (@stighefootball) December 28, 2021
In much the same vein, fans pointed out the massive economic outlay behind the move, with Toronto FC supposedly offering Insigne a $13m base salary, plus $5m in bonuses. Explaining how something of this nature could be pulled off, one user explained that Toronto FC was owned by MLSE, a multi-sport conglomerate.
He'd be guaranteed €11m per season with a potential €4.5m in add-ons. 💸— DR Sports (@drsportsmedia) December 28, 2021
That would almost be the same amount as the MLS' top three biggest earners combined! 😯#Insigne #TFC #MLS pic.twitter.com/LiKs1ClWKo
In case you wondering how Toronto FC can pull off all those mega deals. They are owned by MLSE. A multi-sport conglomerate worth between $1.5-2 billion that owns not just TFC but also #LeafsForever & the #WeTheNorth. Spending $28m on Insigne is peanuts for them. pic.twitter.com/NKr76m3p4Z— Manuel Veth (@ManuelVeth) December 28, 2021
And surely, a move to Toronto was bound to draw parallels with another Italian by the name Sebastian Giovinco, who had made a similar transition when he was only 27, leaving Juventus to play for the Canadian club, much to the wonder of football fans.
Italian restaurants in Toronto replacing Giovinco pictures with Insigne as we speak— Alexis Guerreros (@NotAlexis) December 28, 2021
While many debated the propriety of Insigne’s move, there wasn’t a dearth of those who found ways to make jokes about the same, with many memes themed around the cultural shock the move might entail for Insigne.
How Insigne will view Toronto after living in Napoli all his life pic.twitter.com/faxtx4wMIL— • (@rossoneroanto) December 28, 2021
Just imagined Insigne trying to learn English and collapsed— Daniel (@dani_russo22) December 28, 2021
One even joked about possibly sighting Insigne and Canadian rapper Drake together at a basketball game.
Daring to imagine Insigne and Drake at a Raptors game.— James Horncastle (@JamesHorncastle) December 28, 2021
If that wasn’t enough, fans even made memes to include Torino striker Andrea Belotti, who is also rumoured to be another Italian on his way towards Toronto FC.
Bob Bradley coaching Insigne, Belotti, & the rest of Toronto FC in 2022 pic.twitter.com/inVFWDORCv— dparks of rivia (@dparks97) December 28, 2021
Lorenzo Insigne and Andrea Belotti together in Toronto next season. pic.twitter.com/Tl7YCraPdC— Matt Santangelo 🤌🏼 (@Matt_Santangelo) December 28, 2021
Suffice to say, fans didn’t hold themselves from professing their views, and it made for one hell of a spectacle, as far as keen observers are concerned.