Meet Riccardo Pecini, the talent scout who helped Spurs and Monaco sign Modric and Martial – The Athletic

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Riccardo Pecini grabs his vaporizer and leans back in his office chair. The phone on his desk rings but he politely declines the call. Spezia’s chief executive has been recruiting for as long as he can remember. He is part of a dynasty known in Italy as the Maldinis of Scouting. “Honestly, I grew up in this world,” Pecini says.

His father Aldo is still in the game as a scouting coordinator for Modena. But before that, he was tasked with identifying talent for some of Serie A’s biggest clubs and was scouted for Manchester City during Roberto Mancini’s tenure. “I used to travel by car with him when I was 12 or 13 years old. No GPS. No cell phone signal. He was a pioneer,” smiles Pecini. “I remember a trip to Slovakia to watch the Slovak Under-18 Cup. Ten hours on the road, without ever finding the stadium, no GPS. We were just reading the map.

Formative experiences in dark places and unpronounceable football pitches, watching matches no one else followed but the locals in order to find the names that one day everyone in football could talk about. “I learned that you can find a player in every game,” Pecini said. “It doesn’t matter where he is or what the league is. You can find players everywhere. This is the lesson Aldo taught his son, and it has served him well. This is one of the reasons why Damien Comolli hired Pecini to scout Italy and Central Europe for Tottenham.

“Scouting has to be live,” says Pecini. “You have the video and the data, but you have to watch the players in person. Part of the job is to feel. It is difficult to explain.

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