Romano: Altidore Set To Depart TFC
Here we go: world-renowned sports journalist Fabrizio Romano has declared that Jozy Altidore is officially set to leave Toronto FC.
Romano states that work is now in progress to terminate his contract, though it remains unclear where this will involve a Toronto FC buyout in the offseason or a mutual termination to allow him to quickly enter the market as a free agent, as his current contract runs through to 2022.
If the 2021 MLS season ends up being Altidore’s last year with the club, it was a tumultuous end for a player who has firmly established himself as a club legend: he completed just 967 minutes of action across 19 appearances this season, with Chris Armas having dropped him from the team for some time following a icy disagreement between the two.
While new head coach Javier Perez repaired that burnt bridge, the striker’s return was then hindered by a necessary foot surgery that kept him out for two months. His return after that was highlighted by a last-gasp goal that ultimately proved to keep CF Montreal out of the playoffs, and a go-ahead goal against Pacific FC in the Canadian Championship semi-final.
Altidore did not travel with the squad for their Voyageurs Cup Final loss to CF Montreal yesterday.
Fans have had numerous discussions on whether Jozy’s appearances – which often come between spells of injuries – were a good enough return for a Designated Player spot. With Alejandro Pozuelo and Yeferson Soteldo occupying the other three, the club had no space for a further big-splash signing, and many felt Altidore’s on-pitch performances no longer justified a DP deal.
The 32-year-old striker arrived to Toronto in 2015 to a mix response following a tough time with Sunderland, but proved doubters wrong to quickly establish himself as a leading MLS striker. Altidore has scored 79 goals for the side during his tenure at BMO Field, the most famous of which helped Toronto FC secure the 2017 MLS Cup. The forward also hoisted the Supporters Shield that same year, and saw three consecutive Voyageurs Cup wins between 2016-2018.
When Altidore signed a new three-year designated player contract in 2019, Bill Manning quipped the striker would remain a TFC player for the rest of his career. Despite that, rumours quickly arose that Chinese Super League club Jiangsu Suning FC had put in a bid for the veteran striker, and just one month later the forward had a public dispute with Manning.
With Jozy Altidore now having completed seven seasons as a Toronto FC player, the forward is a clear TFC icon. His departure would come as mixed bag for supporters: his injury history makes it difficult to justify a designated player spot, though he’s been there for some truly momentous occasions in club history. With Justin Morrow having retired this season and Toronto FC finishing without any trophies, it truly feels like an era-ending time for a squad that seemed to have it all in 2017.
Neither Toronto FC or Jozy Altidore have released any comment regarding the rumours thus far.
While Romano is known for covering the largest transfers in the global game, the world-renounced journalist has done plenty of MLS reporting this year, too: he recently reported on Alvaro Medran departing Chicago, Gianluca Busio to Venzia, and reported that Insigne wouldn’t be coming to Major League Soccer despite the TFC rumours.