Giovinco hopes for Azzurri future while thriving in Toronto

Giovinco surprised many when he left Italian champions Juventus in January to move to the Canadian club for a reported annual salary in excess of $7 million — a league high.

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The Turin-born forward played in Italy’s last friendly in November against Albania but reports suggest Conte may leave him out of the European Championship qualifier against Bulgaria and friendly against England this month since he is just in early season in MLS.

“I don’t know, only he knows,” Giovinco, who has played 21 times for the Italian national team, told Reuters. “If it is opportune, he will call me.”

But the 28-year-old striker doesn’t believe that his move to MLS has automatically ended his international career.

“It is not like that all. The door is open,” he said, adding that he continued to have a good rapport with Conte, who coached him at Juventus before taking the Azzurri job. “We have a good relationship but it is a normal one. It’s not like we speak every day or something.”

Conte was publicly supportive of Giovinco’s decision to move to MLS at a time when many in Italy questioned his decision to leave Serie A for the emerging North American league – a drop in standard, albeit with a handsome pay rise.

The former Parma player says many of his old friends from Italian football are fascinated by MLS.

“They are curious. I think they know that I have made an excellent choice. There are many who would like to come and play over here,” said Giovinco.

The deals to bring England internationals Frank Lampard to New York City FC and Steven Gerrard to LA Galaxy, both of which will see those players move after the end of the current Premier League season, grabbed more attention than Giovinco’s transfer but in many ways his switch was more significant.

Age-wise, the forward is in his peak years rather than, like many of the big names who have moved to MLS, in the twilight of his career.

While MLS teams are always conscious of marketing opportunities, Toronto, who have one win and one defeat from their opening two games, clearly expect Giovinco to make a huge impact, primarily, on the field.

Toronto coach Greg Vanney says the speedy and diminutive forward has fit in perfectly at the club.

“I couldn’t have imagined it being better. He is a great personality, he loves playing the game and he is fun to watch and obviously to coach and he is very humble,” he told Reuters.

Vanney enthuses when he considers the options that Giovinco provides him with in attack.

“He’s so quick, his first touch is so precise, he can do a lot of things, he wins himself time and with his quickness he can get away from people. He is going to be great for us,” he said.

The player admits though that he is still adjusting to playing with a new club in a new league.

“There is a big difference in terms of the rhythm of the game and the style of play but I will try to adapt as soon as possible,” said Giovinco.

“I’ve been watching all the games I can from MLS on television. It is going to be difficult for sure we have to look to continuously improve.”

(Editing by Frank Pingue)