Despite drawing interest from clubs in Europe, Canadian international Ayo Akinola chose to re-sign with Toronto FC, inking a new deal that runs through 2024 with an option for 2025.
Akinola is still making his way back from the ACL surgery he had in August for an injury suffered while playing for Canada’s men’s national team against the United States at the Gold Cup.
The injury cost him the remainder of the 2021 season.
Akinola’s agent Nick Househ explains that while there were “interesting options” for his client to play overseas, ultimately staying in Toronto is better for his immediate future.
“I think overall, making the decision to stay with TFC is going to be good for his career in the sense for the next couple of years or year or two to get the development back on the field and get the momentum going again and then we’ll look at some options in Europe,” Househ told TSN. “Because we still do have interest and that’s still on the table.”
Coming off a tough season, Toronto FC made a major coaching hire by bringing in Bob Bradley, a three-time MLS Coach of the Year, and a blockbuster signing in Italian national team star Lorenzo Insigne, who recently captured the European Championship and has won both the Super Cup and Coppa Italia as a member of Napoli.
Househ believes that the commitment TFC has made to Akinola shows they believe in the talent of the 22-year-old and what he can mean to the team.
“It speaks volumes the offer they put on the table and what they’ve offered him, it’s a large homegrown contract,” said Househ. “They value him, I know they see him potentially to be their top striker, he has to get there of course, there is a lot of hard work ahead of him. They do value him and he is a top talent and I think with Insigne coming to Toronto, he has strong people around him that can support him on the pitch.”
As for the injury recovery, Househ says the Brampton, Ont., product has been working hard on his road back, but knows that nothing will be given to him as he tries to regain the form that earned him a place both on an MLS and national team roster.
“He’s been really focused and working hard, he’s kept his weight down, he’s working out, he’s really leaned out a lot actually, though he’s not running,” said Househ. “He just started running in late December, they had him running and now he’s just running on his own weight, before he was on the gravity treadmill. He’s travelled with the team to California, so they figure April/May he’ll be back on the pitch.”
“He has a really good attitude, he’s positive and we speak all the time and he told me not too long ago, ‘I know I have to work hard to get back to where I was and I’m going to do it.’ He knows he has to earn his spot back on TFC as starting striker, that’s what he wants and then with the national team.”