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Giovinco's early arrival key for Toronto FC given brutal start to schedule

02/02/2015 10:09 EST | Updated 04/04/2015 05:59 EDT
TORONTO - With Sebastian Giovinco on board ahead of schedule, Toronto FC will be at full strength to negotiate a brutal opening to the 2015 MLS season.

It may be the best piece of business Toronto GM Tim Bezbatchenko has done, although he credits Giovinco and his agent for prying the five-foot-four Italian playmaker loose from Juventus ahead of July when his existing contract was to expire.

The official announcement came via Juventus on Monday, the final day of the transfer window.

"Giovinco has today left the club to begin his new adventure with FC Toronto. Good luck, Seba!" the club tweeted.

In getting Giovinco into camp next week, head coach Greg Vanney will have close to a month to work with him ahead of the March 7 season opener in Vancouver. And the player himself will have time to adjust to his new surroundings, on and off the pitch.

With Toronto facing seven straight road games to open the season due to stadium renovations, Giovinco's early arrival is "extremely helpful to getting off on the right foot," Bezbatchenko said Monday from Orlando, where the team is training.

"I'm very excited today," he added. "Especially because of the way it went about, it's really worked out to TFC's advantage."

Since announcing Giovinco's signing Jan. 19, Toronto has been low-key about the player's early arrival. Bezbatchenko denied any further negotiations with Juventus but with Giovinco not playing, there was plenty of speculation he would come earlier than expected.

In the end it worked out for everyone. Juventus rid itself of an asset that was going anyway. Giovinco gets his MLS pay sooner than later and Toronto can start building around its offensive schemer.

Bezbatchenko said his club did not pay Juventus anything extra for the early release, although Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment will have to pay the full seven-figure freight for Giovinco this season instead of a pro-rated half-season.

The Toronto GM also said, to his knowledge, the Giovinco camp did not have to pay anything to Juventus.

The five-foot-four forward known as The Atomic Ant made 130 appearances for Juventus over his career but only 10 this season. He scored twice in his final appearance last month, a 6-1 Italian Cup win over Verona.

Bezbatchenko said the club is "still looking for one or two more pieces. We always are."

The club may look to add on the wing. It also has to unload Brazilian striker Gilberto, who is the odd man out in a designated player group that also includes Giovinco, midfielder Michael Bradley and striker Jozy Altidore.

Toronto has until March 1 to meet roster compliance, which means only three designated players.

Then it has to produce on the pitch after a 2-6-2 finish to the season under Vanney, who took over after Ryan Nelsen was fired Aug. 31.

Other additions bolstering last year's 11-15-8 squad are veteran defender Damien Perquis and midfielder Benoit Cheyrou, who may join the team Tuesday in Florida. Winger Jackson is still awaiting the birth of his child in Brazil.

Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter

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