In a Peruvian Waltz exclusive, we spoke one-on-one with scout Giulio D’Alessandro. Giulio discovered a number of players, including Danish international and Celta Vigo winger Pione Sisto, who will face Peru at the World Cup this summer. Only Lionel Messi (12) has more assists in La Liga than Sisto’s nine this season.
D’Alessandro discussed what he loves the most about his job, how his career began, his best finds, why he admires Sport Huancayo’s Marco Lliuya and more.
What do you enjoy most as a scout?
I enjoy that it is not a job, but a passion. I enjoy that this makes me a free and independent man who has the possibility to travel around the world doing what he loves. This is the reply of the person, now the reply of the professional: It’s a very difficult job, you need to have your eyes steadily open knowing that you will never, in any case, have enough knowledge to say “those are the best players possible.” Even if you will watch 10 games per day (impossible) you will miss hundreds of other matches and thousands of players. It’s true that with new scouting platforms, the monitoring process is easier and faster, with which you can update your database, but it’s always impossible to have a full vision. As professional, I can say I enjoy the possibility to use my feelings and my view with total freedom. In this job, everything is based on what I think, what I like and what I feel.
Aside from Pione Sisto, who is your prized possession? Who is the player you found that has gone the furthest?
There are many names. I can divide them in different categories. There are the players that I just scouted and reported, and there are the players that I approached directly, earning mandates from them or their agents in order to deal with them. Between the players that I simply reported on, there are so many. Marco Reus (when he was playing with Rot Weiss Ahlen), Mateo Kovacic (in his first season with Dinamo Zagreb), Taison (in his first season with Metalist Kharkiv), Georginio Wijnaldum (when he was with Feyenoord), and many, many others. Between the players that I directly approached (them or their agents): Leroy Fer (when he was with the Netherlands U-19s in 2007), Takashi Usami (when he was in his first season with Gamba Osaka), Martin Hinteregger (when he was with RB Salzburg youth), Thomas Delaney (when he was with Copenhagen youth) and, again, many others.
You’re still quite young, when did you start this career and how did you make others trust you?
I started in 2007 to scout and approach players, in 2009 to work for an Italian agent and in 2015, I opened my own agency D’Alessandro Scouting. At the beginning, it was not easy to make others trust me. I understand for a sporting director or for an agent with 40 or 50 years of age, it is not easy to give credit to a 15, 17 or 19-year-old boy. But I can say that I managed that aspect. I did it with my professionalism and with the high quality of my work. I knew that if others usually did six, I had to do 10. If others report on players just on papers, I would have done that on papers, on video and with direct contact. No one helps you in the professional world if it’s not useful to them, so you have to show them the reason why you can really help. With time, your name becomes more common every year and people forget how old you are. So it’s all a matter of quality, perseverance and impudence. You can’t fear the direct contact with high-level professionals, sometimes even your childhood idols.
I see you are familiar with Marcos Lliuya. As a Peruvian I have to ask how long you’ve followed him and what is your opinion on him?
I’m not familiar with him as a person but I know him as a player very well. He is one of the biggest mistakes of Peruvian Football. Why mistake? Beacause he had to leave Peru at least three or four years ago. Now he is a mature player and it will be difficult, if not impossible, for him to adapt in a high-level European league. He has everything to play at the highest level but I think now it’s too late. He is a player with three strong qualities: elusive and agile dribbling, vision and passing accuracy. He reminds me of David Pizarro when he was playing with Santiago Wanderers. In low-level football, where everything is a counter-attack and there is not a real playmaking phase, those players are used as offensive players, a No. 10, or sometimes even on the wings. But in high-level football, they would not have the possibility to play in that position. In high-level football, Lliuya is a playmaker in front of the defence. Learning how to defend and how to put himself between opponent’s passing lines, he would have had the same qualities of Pizarro – who, to me, was one of the best playmakers in Serie A of the last 20 years. When you have that kind of dribbling, it’s easy to you to elude opponents’ pressing and make the play having one player out of the opponents’ defensive line because you eluded the pressing. When you have that vision and that passing accuracy, you can see the movements of your teammates and serve them in the right way. So my opinion about him is that if he wants to reach the highest possible level, he has to leave Peru this summer. He will probably never reach the level he would have reached leaving some years ago, but he can still look at the possibility to play for the Peruvian national team. I suggest him to lower his salary demands and look at carving more opportunities for himself.
What do you think about your favourite team, AS Roma, at the moment?
In Roma, we are experiencing too many changes. Six different coaches in the last six seasons, so many different players … This lead to confusion and bad results. This season, we’ve had a very positive Champions League campaign, but in Coppa Italia, we went out against Torino in the first round. In Serie A, we are just three points above Lazio, who is in fifth. We are lacking in the midfield where we need a more creative player and a higher-level playmaker. Also we need more players in the starting XI without losing all that quality. Players like Patrik Schick, Gregoire Defrel, Gerson, Lorenzo Pellegrini, Juan Jesus and Bruno Peres are not starting calibre and the quality of the team changes dramatically when we don’t have the best possible XI. After many years, where we always took a step forward, looking to fight against Juventus for the title, this is the first season where we took a step back. I don’t know how many responsibilities the coach, Eusebio Di Francesco, had in that regard, but as Daniele De Rossi said last year, it would have been difficult for any coach to do a better job than Luciano Spalletti.
In your opinion, what is the best country or continent to scout?
In my opinion, Africa is the continent where there are the highest-level players at the lowest price. What is necessary is to build up a strong network there with trustworthy professionals that work directly with the clubs and the federations.