The Impact have made some good contacts abroad and we're already seeing the results of that.
When Montreal Impact sporting director Nick De Santis started talking last summer about how he was preparing for MLS, he stressed the importance of having contacts in different soccer markets around the globe.
“We’ve built good relationships,” De Santis told the media at the time. “In South America, we have met with people who have good connections in Colombia, Argentina and Paraguay. We built a good relationship with Fiorentina in Italy, and we have already had several discussions and meetings with their technical staff and sporting director. We’ve also made good contacts in Scandinavia and elsewhere in Europe.
“These are the kind of things that we're trying to work on and to this end we hope to be able to bring in the best possible players.”
Almost three months into the Impact expansion MLS season, we are starting to see the fruits of De Santis’ labour.
The Impact’s foreign signings have been excellent. Matteo Ferrari is a rock in defence, Felipe is indispensible in midfield, Rivas showed great promise on the back line in his first appearance on Saturday, and Bernardo Corradi has made very useful contributions as well.
The signing of these players have come as a direct result of having good contacts - particularly in Italy - who could inform the club of these players as soon as they became available.
The case of Ferrari is a perfect example.
De Santis and club president Joey Saputo never had the intention of meeting with Ferrari in February when they travelled to Italy to look for a designated player – it’s quite clear that they were going to meet with Marco Di Vaio – and it was only because they were notified by a contact of theirs once they arrived in the peninsula that Ferrari was a free agent and looking for a club, that they were able to then meet with the defender and ultimately bring him to Montreal.
Ferrari has probably been the Impact’s best player of the MLS campaign so far.
The additions of Italian players Ferrari and Corradi, as well as Rivas who played in Italy, has also facilitated the seemingly imminent arrival of soon to be former Bologna striker Di Vaio, who admitted last Friday that he had had discussions with Ferrari and Corradi and that they played a role in convincing him to come to Montreal.
“Marco [Di Vaio] will settle in really well here,” Ferrari told TuttoMercatoWeb earlier this week. “Life is very good here.”
The arrival of these players have made headlines in Italy’s most important sports newspapers and the kind of impact that this exposure makes cannot be underestimated.
Every soccer agent in Italy - there are thousands – is not only now aware of the Impact, but also understands that Montreal is a viable destination for one or more of their clients. Having this kind of access to players in such a soccer rich country can only be a good thing, and we’ve already seen the results of that.
But the connections abroad bring more than just players. Being able to have good relationships with clubs that have been in existence for almost 100 years or more – like AC Milan and Fiorentina – and being able to learn from the experience and knowledge that they have received over that time, is an invaluable asset and one that will help nurture the team for years to come.
Nick Sabetti covers the Montreal Impact for Goal.com Canada.