By now everyone knows that Cuban superstar Wilfredo Leon, arguably the best player in the world, will be joining Italy’s Sir Safety Perugia next season. Ever since reports first started to link the Cuban high flyer to the team, fans across the volleyball community have asked what would happen to Ivan Zaytsev‘s spot on the roster. Lots of rumors surfaced across the internet as to where he would end up, as it was known to the public that he was tired of being an outside hitter and wanted to return to the opposite position. However, it just so happens that Perugia‘s current opposite is one of the world’s best at his position, Serbian Aleksandar Atanasijević, who is already signed to the team for two more seasons. Here is what the team’s President, Gino Serci, had to say of the matter a month ago:
“Yes, we have reached an agreement in all aspects for a two year extension with Atanasijevic and Podrascanin. Perugia’s future today starts with Aleksandar Atanasijević and Marko Podraščanin and not with Ivan Zaytsev, which has decided to change positions. I understand that, even in soccer it is better to be a striker than than a defender. We believe he will play somewhere else. However, we hope he decides to stay. He said he wants to stay in Italy and I do not know if he can find the same technical conditions he has in Perugia elsewhere in the country. We are willing to wait for his decision.”
After the initial turmoil, it at first seemed like Perugia and Zaytsev would be able to reach an agreement after all. However, the wait has left Zaytsev impatient, and his latest statement has all but confirmed that he is done with the team:
“We are already in May and I am here, I think we are out of time. I have done everything, and when a person is about to leave and nobody tries to stop it, it means that there is no desire to do it. And doing it now, after winning the championship, would seem to me, above all, disrespectful. I feel teased.”
It now really looks like Zaytsev will hit the open market. Where will he go though? Gino Serci is right, the world’s top teams, which are the few that have enough money to pay Zaytsev, already have opposite hitters just as good him on their rosters (Osmany Juantorena at Lube and Maxim Mikhaylov at Zenit Kazan come to mind).
Ivan Zaytsev, Osmany Juantorena Return to Italian National Team