Federico Bernardeschi embraces role as TFC's 'maverick'

A positional move to wingback has led to a big change in form and attitude from the Italian this season under John Herdman.

Federico Bernardeschi embraces role as TFC's 'maverick'

It took a long time and a positional change, but Federico Bernardeschi is finally living up to his status as a Designated Player for Toronto FC.  

Bernardeschi took MLS by storm in the summer of 2022 when he joined TFC, scoring eight goals and adding three assists in just 13 league appearances. The Italian attacker appeared to have given the Reds a small taste of what they could expect from him once he had a proper training camp under his belt and had a full season in front of him.  

But the former Juventus star had an abysmal 2023 campaign as TFC suffered their worst season in franchise history. Bernardeschi logged more minutes (2,608) and appearances (31, all starts) than any other player on the team, while being limited to just five goals and four assists.  

The Italian didn’t come close to living up to his big-money contract (his $6,295,381 US in wages made him the sixth-highest paid player in MLS) and certainly didn’t produce on the offensive end like a DP is expected to do. At times last year, Bernardeschi looked disengaged and not fully committed to the cause, and he infamously caused a stir when he called out former coach Bob Bradley following a 1-0 road loss to Austin FC.