Every week at The Center Circle, we are highlighting a different player in a feature we call “On the Spot”. We’ll take a look at superstars, underrated gems, aging veterans, and young unknowns who should be known. We’ll peruse their club and international careers, taking note of their teams, statistics, and highlight reels. We’ll illuminate their strengths and weaknesses and comment on their personalities and reputations. It will be some fun. If there is anyone you want to see “On the Spot”, feel free to comment below.

Sebastian Giovinco

Toronto's Giovinco

Image: Nathan Denette/CP

The MLS has kicked off its 23rd season. One of the superstars to watch this year has to be the reigning MVP Sebastian Giovinco. The Italian striker dominated the league last year, and will be looking for another big season this time around.

Time in Turin

Before he was tearing it up north of the border, Giovinco was developing his trade as a member of Juventus’ youth academy. During his time with the Bianconeri’s various youth teams, the young striker became one of the club’s most promising prospects, and was playing alongside future club icon Claudio Marchisio, as well. After nearly ten years in the academy and reserves, Giovinco finally earned his debut during the 2006/07 campaign.

That year was an odd one for Juventus as they found themselves playing in the second division. The Italian giants were relegated to the Serie B due to the “Calciopoli” scandal rather than their performance results. A 20-year-old Giovinco would make three appearances at the tail end of that season, and even registered an assist on his debut against Bologna.

That season, Juve earned promotion back to Serie A. That summer, they loaned their promising striker to fellow Serie A side Empoli. Giovinco would enjoy a relatively successful time at his temporary home appearing in 35 league fixtures, scoring six goals along the way. While the 21-year-old had personal success at Empoli, the club struggled and was relegated at the conclusion of the season.

Juventus youth player Giovinco

Giovinco returned to Juventus next season with professional experience under his belt, but he still struggled to break into the first team. The young striker would have to wait until September 24th to make his Serie A debut for Juve, and it wasn’t until December that he scored his first goal (granted it was a cracking free kick). Sitting behind the likes of club legend Alessandro Del Piero, and Amauri meant that competition for a starting forward position was very stiff. The conclusion of his first full year with Juve saw Giovinco appear 19 times in the league, with only nine of those coming as starts.

The following year, the striker’s already limited playing time decreased. Giovinco would start just five games for Juve, while coming off the bench for another ten appearances. Statistically, the Italian found the net just once and assisted another one. His inability to consistently make an impact in the first team meant that Juve viewed him as a surplus player and sent him on loan for the following season.

Playing for Parma

After two forgettable seasons in Turin, Giovinco was sent on loan to Parma. The agreement between the two clubs meant that Parma had the option to buy 50 percent of Giovinco’s contract at the conclusion of the loan The 2010/11 season was far-and-wide the best campaign that Giovinco had experienced up to that point. He was a consistent starter for his new club, starting 28 of his 30 appearances. He also racked up a career-high in goals that year, finding the back of the net seven times (including a brace against Juve).

His incredibly successful first season with the club convinced Parma to exercise their purchasing clause in the loan agreement. His second year at the club was even more successful than his first as he not only led the team in goals (15), but also led them in assists. It looked like the move to Parma was just what Giovinco needed to find his scoring touch, and he finally started to show the skill that made him such a highly touted prospect in the academy.

Back to Juve

Juventus' Giovinco

Giovinco’s successful two-year stint at Parma was good enough to make Juve buy back his contract for a reported fee of €11 million. The return to his parent club saw the striker emerge as a key player for the famous black and white kit. Giovinco started 31 times for Juve between all competitions as he played a major role in the club’s domestic and European endeavors. He would wrap up that year with 11 goals and six assists as Juve claimed the league and Super Cup titles.

The good times at Juventus didn’t last much longer for Giovinco. During the 2013/14 season, he was once again relegated to a substitute role as he started just six times out of his 17 league appearances. That season also saw his form drastically decline with him finding the back of the net just three times in all competitions. Juve did win the league that year, but other than that it was a thoroughly forgettable season for him.

Turin to Toronto

Giovinco would spent just half a season more at Juve before reaching an agreement to join Toronto FC in the MLS in January. A little less than two months later, the 28-year-old was making his debut against Canadian rivals the Vancouver Whitecaps in a 3-1 victory. Three games later, the former Juventus striker scored his first goal for Toronto an equalizer against the Chicago Fire.

The Italian’s debut season stateside was nothing short of amazing. Giovinco was the most lethal striker in the lead as he scored a career-high 22 times through just 34 appearances. On top of that, he also led the league with 13 assists. Included in this incredible season were five multi-goal games including two hat tricks against New York FC and Orlando City. Despite getting knocked out in the first round of the playoffs, Giovinco did take home some personal silverware as he was unsurprisingly named league MVP.

International Career

After representing Italy on virtually every youth level, Sebastian Giovinco made his debut for the Italian National Team way back on February 9, 2011 against Germany. His impressive form at Parma earned him a spot in Cesare Prandelli’s 23-man squad for the 2012 Euros. Giovinco would make two appearances as a substitute that tournament as Italy finished runner-up to Spain.

The 29-year-old has also represented his homeland during the qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup and he was also a member of the nation’s Confederation Cup squad in 2013. During that tournament, Giovinco would score his first ever international goal against Japan. Despite being involved in the qualifiers, the Juve academy product was not included in the final squad for the tournament, but has since been recalled as the team prepares for the 2016 Euros.

Style of Play

Giovinco has earned the nickname of “The Atomic Ant” throughout his career. His short stature (5ft. 4in.) makes the Italian anything but intimidating from a sheer physical viewpoint. However, when it comes to pure skill on the ball he can strike fear into most defenders. His quick feet and sniper’s eye for a pass make him a constant threat in the final third and also in the build-up to the attack. On top of that, the Italian has a knack for scoring inch-perfect free kicks. Right now, his skill level puts him head and shoulders above pretty much every MLS defender, and it should set him up for another outstanding season.


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