Lorenzo Insigne agreed mammoth £44m deal after Toronto FC adopted unique transfer method

By Patrick Austen-Hardy

Toronto FC president Bill Manning decided to sign Napoli forward and Euro 2020 winner Lorenzo Insigne after searching the player on popular football information and data website Transfermarkt.

Insigne became the highest paid player in MLS history when he agreed a deal which will see him join the Canadian side at the end of the season.

The Italian forward put pen to paper on a four-year contract worth a staggering £11million per season.

Insigne spent 12 seasons with the Serie A giants, progressing through the academy system and becoming one of the most significant players in their history.

And Manning learned everything he needed to know about the 53 cap Italian when he searched through his statistics on Transfermarkt.

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"I actually went to the Transfermarkt website, and I looked up the Italian national team on what players were coming out of contract," Manning said via The Toronto Sun.

"And Lorenzo was one of the few players that was coming out of contract. I started writing down players that I thought were world-class, that I thought would have commercial value in this market.

"I then presented to the MLSE board a five-year vision on what we need to do to reinvigorate our club. And Lorenzo Insigne was the first name on that list.”

Insigne made 538 appearances for the Naples side, scoring 173 goals and contributing 115 assists.

He also played a starring role in Italy’s Euro 2020 triumph, starting all but one match and contributing two goals for Roberto Mancini’s side.

While many former players such as Andrea Pirlo, David Villa, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, and David Beckham moved across the pond in the closing years of his career, Insigne’s move to the MLS at 30-years-old has surprised many.

Toronto FC president Bill Manning's approach to signing Inisgne was very interesting (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

And one of those individuals who raised their eyebrows at his move was his former agent Antonio Ottaiano, who believes a move to the MLS is far too early.

"It's a lifestyle choice more than a career one," Ottaiano told Radio Marte, via Sports Bible.

"A decision like this means playing a very different type of sport. It's exhibition football, not a proper competition. We'd need to see what his priorities are, who he is getting advice from.

"Naturally, we Italians struggle to understand a move like this, yet Giovinco did it. Only those who are in this situation can understand how much the salary pushes them to accept or not."

Insigne will join Toronto, who signed Jermain Defoe in 2014, on a free transfer when his contract at Luciano Spalletti’s side expires.

Lorenzo Insigne was one of Italy's most important players at Euro 2020 (Photo by Michael Regan - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)

But it was not until he came across the Italian on Transfermarkt that Manning realised his contract was expiring at the end of the season.

And Manning’s satisfaction and relief that he was able to get the deal over the line was more than apparent.

“When (D’Amico) made his first phone call with (Insigne’s agent) Vincenzo (Pisacane), Andrea called me back and said: ‘Bill, it’s destiny, we’re going to make this happen.’ And that was back in September,” Manning added.

"This is a player in the prime of his career who just came off wining the European Championship... and has continued this year to play at a very high level," said Manning.

"We've had a lot of famous players and amazing players come into this league but a player with his credentials and of his calibre in the prime of his career I'm not sure we've seen yet."

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