Below is a transcript of a sit-down interview between sjearthquakes.com and general manager Jesse Fioranelli about the Quakes’ newest DP signing Valeri ‘Vako’ Qazaishvili.
SJEarthquakes.com: What were you looking for in a DP signing?
Jesse Fioranelli: “As we said at the beginning, at the very beginning of this season, we were looking at a player, an offensive player, a younger player, a player that really wants to come here, that also really excites the people and has the possibility to stay with us for a longer period of time. That’s what we had found with Vako. We had found a player that over the last three, four seasons has left a mark in European football. He was pursued by many teams and gave us also, as we were heading towards the end of the search, the certainty that while we were looking for a player that will give us not only offensive contribution, will go there where it hurts. We need players that do just that, that know how to take on a player one-by-one, that see the goal and that have also the courage to want to bring a spark to our game. And so that was the main reason why.”
SJEQ:What scouting tools were used to find Qazaishvili?
JF: “First and foremost, when you go and recruit a player, it is really about maturing a gut feeling based on all of the resources that you have at your disposal. There are traditional ways as to how you can look at a player and evaluate them by looking at the player on field and on video. I think that played a certain role in the choice of getting Vako because I know the player already for three, four seasons all the way back to when I worked at Lazio-Rome, and Vitesse had a very strong side, especially offensively with players like [Dominic] Solanke that right now has dominated even for England and others. And what you add on top of that are other resources that help you vet the player from different angles so that this gut feeling that you have matures to somewhat of a certainty if you want. While in football you don’t have any certainties, you’re just trying to minimize risks and find the best fit. We have been working with databases that allow us to look at players from every angle, that cover the entire universe of football that other teams are utilizing as well, but what we try to do especially is to try to bring whatever our scout sees – in this case it was on the one hand the eyes of [head scout] Bruno Costa, the eyes of [director of methodology] Alex Covelo, the input also from our coaching staff and the ones that I think I utilized in order to find value in the player. This gave us an all-around picture as to the value of the player and at the very end of this, comes also the financial ramifications of the deal. Considering that this player had a value that most teams in MLS would not be able to invest in, we found a player and an opportunity, which is the most important thing – that window of opportunity – that allowed us to strike a deal with Vitesse and with the player.”
SJEQ:Why do you think he’s a good fit and will be successful in MLS and with the Earthquakes?
JF: “In many leagues in Europe, you don’t play with a classic number 10, and I don’t want to leave the impression as if Vako is only a classic number 10 – a central attacking midfielder. I would consider him, actually, a second striker. A striker that scores goals, that especially in the last third is able to impose himself because he sees the goal, he takes on the opponent one-on-one and he also goes there where it hurts like I said before. That’s a quality that few players have. And so that’s what I think his main characteristics are that will excite our crowd here that has been waiting for a DP signing. And I think also that he will leave a mark in MLS. So, all in all, I think it is that type of player that we have been looking for, for a longer period of time, and considering that he’s excited to come, I think when we present him he will have a fan base and people that will be excited to see him walk onto the field for our team.”
SJEQ: Why should fans be excited about this signing?
JF: “Fans should be excited because he has a spark in his eyes and he will do the very same to the people that will see him play."