Sebastian Giovinco will finally turn his back on Serie A, eight years after having been promoted to the first-team of his boyhood club Juventus. As he embarks for new adventures in Canada with Toronto FC however, both the 27-year-old and fans might find themselves wondering what could have been of his Calcio career.
It all started in the in the summer of the 2008 Toulon Tournament in France, which augured great things for the playmaker. Giovinco inspired the U-21 Italy team to win the tournament, being nominated its best player. The Italian was unstoppable and showed great maturity in the responsibilities he took on the field, whether it was in conducting play or taking set-pieces. When it came to the professional level however, his lilliputian stature proved too much of a handicap.
Giovinco enjoyed a respectable maiden season but struggled the following year with the Bianconeri. With his Juventus career quickly stagnating, Giovinco went on loan to Parma with an option for co-ownership at the end of the season. Parma proved more fertile grounds for Giovinco, with the club exercising their right to purchase 50 per cent of the player’s rights. Two years at Parma generated 22 goals in 66 appearances, until he finally returned once more to Juventus.
His spell at Parma had also opened the doors of the Italy national team for Giovinco. However, his Juventus comeback did not prove the triumphant return he would have had hoped. Alessandro De Piero, the man he had always been touted to become the heir of early in his career, had since left Juventus and vacated the no.10 shirt — Giovinco received the no.12 shirt.
It may have seemed innocuous at first, but in hindsight, it represents the events in Giovinco’s career that encapsulate something that simply might have never been meant to be. As exciting a talent as Giovinco was, maybe his size was something that was never going to allow him to excel at the highest level. Giovinco often found himself too easily muscled off the ball, dribbling into blind alleys or simply trying too hard to prove himself.
When he first started at Juventus, the switch of formation to a 4-4-2 impeded him as well as the presence of more seasoned and expensive players such as Del Piero and Diego. His success away from Turin when at Parma hints that all may have simply not been Giovinco’s fault. After all, he only stagnated once more upon his Bianconeri return.
Today, Italy coach Antonio Conte seems to trust Giovinco despite his lack of playing time at Juventus. All these factors make it difficult to truly elucidate the mystery that is Giovinco’s career. It perhaps was always simply an issue of Giovinco having had the potential/ability to make a respectable Serie A career… but just not at Juventus.
One can only hope that Giovinco can find some peace of mind and once again start enjoying his football in Toronto. Serie A fans however, who seldom had much to say of the Italian other than some unsavory short jokes, might finally be wondering if they missed out on an unfulfilled or a simply misunderstood talent.
Of course answering that question, discerning from Giovinco and the boy they call the Formica Atomica, would be equivalent to splitting the atom.
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