Experience, a good nose, and synergy

Bologna FC and the Impact’s new sporting director has an impressive track record

A big name has joined the Impact’s and Bologna FC’s technical pyramid: Walter Sabatini, sporting director for numerous Italian clubs since 1994, whose discoveries in the transfer market over the years led to the accumulation of points and to the reselling of certain players for a large fee, is now the technical director in Montreal and in the Emilia-Romagna region. The former Lazio, Palermo, AS Roma, Inter Milan, and Sampdoria executive was notably behind the recruitment of Aleksandar Kolarov, Javier Pastore, as well as Mohamed Salah and Radja Nainggolan. Not the worst list of names…

Now that we’re done with introductions, let’s see what this nomination means concretely for the Impact. Speaking to the media, Tuesday morning at Centre Nutrilait, Joey Saputo, president of the board, and Kevin Gilmore, president and chief executive officer, reiterated the importance of having synergy between the Montreal Impact and Bologna FC 1909, the club in Serie A owned by Joey Saputo, without affecting the autonomy of both clubs, notably by hiring a sporting director in each club.

“As I had mentioned to the media last September, I want both clubs, the Impact and Bologna FC, to work a little more closely together,” said Joey Saputo. “When I looked at the current structure, I thought of hiring a general global director for both organizations, in order to harmonize the structure of both clubs, a little like a mirror. I also wanted a sporting director, someone who would be responsible for each team. The sporting director would report to the president, but also to the global sporting director, who will have a team of scouts, working for both organizations, available to him. For me, the nomination of Walter Sabatini is a continuation of the growth between both teams.”

“The first step was to hire this global sporting director,” said president and chief executive officer Kevin Gilmore. “Walter is now in place. I’ll have the chance to meet him soon and discuss with him. We will hire someone in Montreal who ticks the boxes we need, while also taking the global approach into consideration. We aren’t the first club to do this. The New York Red Bulls and New York City FC do it as well. It would be a missed opportunity to work separately. The idea, from a sporting point of view, is to cooperate, help each other, share information, and in certain cases players as well. It will be important for me to sit with Walter to identify the needs we have from a global standpoint, but also here in Montreal, to ensure we’re looking at the right candidates.”

The hiring of Sabatini to the profit of both clubs is the culmination of lots of work and effort and represents an important step in the pursuit of greater synergy between Montreal and Bologna.

“I’ve known Walter for a few years now,” concluded Mr. Saputo. “He’s somewhat of a guru when it comes to European soccer. We explored the possibility of hiring him as sporting director a few years back, but he wasn’t available. We crossed paths again after he left Sampdoria. We feel that he has what we’re looking for. Walter has a lot of experience that will benefit both organizations. Even if he’ll spend a lot of time in Italy, I think he’ll help the Impact tremendously.”