Wednesday, June 13, 2007 by Paul Grech
Vincenco Iaquinta, Amauri, Giorgio Chiellini, Mancini, Juan Manuel Vargas: the list of Serie A based players being linked to Liverpool is increasing at a rate that makes it hard to believe that all these rumours are simply spurious. Add to these the loan transfer of Daniele Padelli and a pattern starts to emerge.
One that leads to Mauro Pederzoli. The one time Brescia and Cagliari technical director - who in Italy have total control on who the club buys - befriended Rafael Benitez when he was still managing Extremadura some fifteen years back.
Over the past two seasons, Pederzoli has been Liverpool’s chief scout in Italy, working closely with Eduardo Macia looking at players not only in the top flight but also lower down the league structure. When Chris Bascombe said that Macia “can be sure his dependency on the same Italian agents will be monitored if the signings aren’t good enough.” in the Echo some time back, he was unwittingly referring to Pederzoli who, it transpires, is not an agent but actually a Liverpool employee. And whilst his initial deal – Padelli - might not have been the best calling card possible, Benitez values his input highly.
In an interview with Il Giornale , Pederzoli recalls how the two met whilst he was representing the then Albacete boss Gigi Maifredi "common friends introduced us and he asked me to become his 'eyes' in Italy. We both said that it would be nice to work together one day and we're finally capable of doing so."
The interview also offers an interesting insight on Benitez's character. "The Benitez that I first met is very similar to how he is at the moment: he thinks about football twenty four hours a day."
Pederzoli also reveals Benitez's fascination with Italian football. "He describes Arrigo Sacchi as the greatest manager of the modern era. Rafa often came to Italy to meet him, to study his methods. They both have a lot of things in common: their attention to detail, the importance that they put closing down space and how they choose their players."
In fact, it is drummed into all of the club's scouts that Benirez does not want flashy players but instead disciplines ones who are physically imposing. "He does not judge a striker simply by the number of goals that he scores. He wants players who are fair and tough. That is why Liverpool didn't have player sent off in the league.