Lorenzo Insigne says his move to Major League Soccer side Toronto FC was due to his need for a new challenge after spending his entire career at Napoli.
The Italy international agreed to join Toronto in January, finishing the 2021-22 Serie A season with 11 goals in 32 appearances for Luciano Spalletti’s Napoli before heading to Canada.
Insigne has scored 122 goals in 434 appearances for the hometown club, a total which is surpassed only by Dries Mertens (148) and is seven goals more than the late great Diego Maradona scored for the Partenopei (115).
Speaking at his first press conference in Toronto, Insigne refuted the suggestion that MLS represented a setback for a player of his quality.
When asked if he had been presented with any other options, Insigne said: “I haven’t received any [other] offers at that time. It was very early when I met the president for the first time, and I still had my contract with Napoli. I could have stayed in Europe.
“I am 31 years old, so I still have many years ahead of me, but I wanted to choose the happiness and well-being of my family.
“As I mentioned before, I won a lot with Napoli and I also lost. But I wanted a change and more importantly a challenge, either at another European club or here in North America.
“I’ve heard people say football in North America isn’t real football, but I’ve seen it and it’s not true.
“It’s a challenge because of the move, but I’m really grateful for the opportunity the president gave me and the whole organization gave me, and the love and effort that everyone everyone puts in. I’m very grateful, and I want to return the love with my performances during the season.”
Insigne joins a team that sits 11th in the Eastern Conference, but he’s already aiming for silverware.
“I’m very happy to be here. It’s a big and new adventure for me and my family, it’s the first time we’ve been away from Napoli,” he said.
“But it was a great choice, because when I first met the president, he told me about Toronto as a city and especially about the team.
“He seemed like a really great person to me, and the project he explained to me about the team stuck with me.
“I made the decision, not for the money, but for a new life for my family and my children, and for their well-being. The project is certainly a challenge, and I would like to be part of the victory of the championship.
“I played for Napoli for 10 years and for the Italian national team, winning the Euros. So I have no problem being under pressure, and I prefer my actions to speak for me on the pitch.”