The Ivan Zaytsev–Perugia soap opera is finally over, as both parties have finally decided to part ways, even after winning Italy`s scudetto this season, a first for Perugia. Zaytsev had communicated earlier in his tenure with the team that he was tired of playing as an outside hitter, wanting to go back to his natural role of an opposite hitter. It just so happens that Perugia`s president Gino Serci made it clear that Aleksandar Atanasijevic was the team`s clear and preferred choice at the opposite position:
“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.”
Still, Gino Serci held on to his hopes that both parties would reach an agreement. They didn`t, and now Zaytsev, who felt disrespected by the team, has been officially signed by Modena for the next three seasons. The player took to Instagram to announce the transfer and pen an emotional goodbye to Perugia:
There are great stories and emotions, moments of pure joy, that are worth every drop of sweat, that make you overcome every pain and mental exhaustion. Like this scudetto: mine, ours, of all those who believed in it. This Scudetto is a love story with a happy ending that nothing and nobody can ruin. This story does not end here because we, who have lived it, carry it inside ourselves. The affection that we have built and we have given ourselves to will remain forever.
Nothing will erase this incredible victory and 2 seasons full of satisfaction and hard work. Nothing will erase my joy of finally returning home when I needed it most. Thank you all: the team and my traveling companions for helping me and trusting me. I love you guys. Thanks to Perugia fans, for the huge affection and support you gave me. Even when certain situations or controversies pulled me down you remained by my side.
But the most important thanks is for you, Lollo. It was an honor to be trained by you, you understood me, you guided me, you listened to me and tamed me. I am proud, determined and often stubborn, you made into what I did not think I would ever be able to be. You were the greatest and now you are even more!
Thanks Perugia, thanks my land. You’ve been a warm blanket, a safe place and a demanding mom. I grew up here, Sasha and little Sienna were born here: they will always have inside themselves a piece of this land.
I said everything I had to say and I gave, with every fiber of my body, everything I could give in every training, every game and every moment I wore the number 9 shirt in this team of champions. A new journey is waiting for me but I go away serene with the reflection that I see in the mirror, loyal to myself and my principles. This can`t be bought at any price, in any life. I am proud of the relationship I have built with each of you. TOGETHER we have made the history of this city! I will always be Ivan for you. Even now when I will start to sweat elsewhere with new dreams and new goals. Now let a new adventure begins.”
Zaytsev`s addition to the team means Modena will not throw the towel after losing Earvin Ngapeth. He will be coached in the team by newly-signed legendary coach Julio Velasco. The team has already also signed Team USA`s Max Holt to a contract extension. This Modena team, with a few more high profile additions, may just turn out to be even better than last season`s attempt at a super team.