January 31, 2019 / 7:26 AM / 19 days ago

Soccer - Giovinco slates Toronto after agreeing Al-Hilal switch

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Tigres v Toronto FC - CONCACAF Champions League - Universitario stadium, San Nicolas de los Garza, Mexico - March 13, 2018 - Sebastian Giovinco of Toronto FC looks on. REUTERS/Daniel Becerril

(Reuters) - Italian forward Sebastian Giovinco said on Wednesday it seemed he “no longer served a purpose” at Toronto FC after the Major League Soccer side opted to sell him to Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilal.

The 32-year-old, who joined Toronto in 2015 from Juventus, scored 83 goals in 142 appearances for the club and picked up a string of individual honours including the league’s MVP, Golden Boot and Newcomer of the Year awards.

He was named to the league’s Best XI three times (2015-2017) and was an All-Star four times (2015-2018).

After thanking the club in a statement, Giovinco took a different tone in comments on Instagram.

“As I have always maintained, I was hoping to renew my contract and finish my playing career in a city that feels like home,” he wrote.

“For the 2 years I have been seeking to extend my contract, however management was reluctant. Recently, after refusing to exercise the club option for 2020, I was offered terms that I deemed unacceptable.

“They may say I left for a more lucrative deal, but this is not the case.

“After having grown the brand and elevating the overall reputation of TFC both at home and abroad, it seems I no longer serve a purpose. I would have accepted less to stay in Toronto.”

Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Peter Rutherford

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