As Toronto FC looks to bolster its lineup for next season, Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment boss Tim Leiweke admitted in a press conference with Toronto media in September that Italy would be one of the team’s hunting grounds.
TFC does indeed appear to want to recruit from the peninsula as Goal learned this week that the club has singled out Genoa forward Alberto Gilardino as one of its main targets for 2014.
Though his actual transfer would have to wait until after the completion of next summer’s World Cup, TFC hopes to be able to announce Gilardino’s signing as early as January.
The 2006 World Cup winner was selected by Italian coach Cesare Prandelli in last summer’s Confederations Cup and has enjoyed several call ups with Italy since then, including in the team’s recent World Cup Qualifying matches with Denmark and Armenia.
The Azzurri have already booked their ticket to Brazil.
Gilardino has played for a slew of important clubs in Italy’s Serie A, including the likes of Parma, Milan and Fiorentina. He’s scored 159 goals in 414 appearances in the Italian top flight.
In December 2011, he made the move from Fiorentina to Genoa for 8 million euros. Last season, he was loaned out to Bologna, where he led the Emilia-Romagna outfit in scoring with 13 goals, helping it avoid relegation.
The 31-year-old returned to Genoa this summer. He has two goals in eight appearances in all competitions so far this season.
Gilardino's yearly salary is in excess of 1.2 million euros. His contract with Genoa expires in July 2016.
MLSE has set aside $26 million for TFC to spend in next year’s transfer windows.