Three years ago, the Revolution brought in Adam Buksa, a low-profile striker who became one of their best scorers before being sold on a $10 million transfer. The Revolution are apparently hoping for a similar outcome with Giacomo Vrioni, investing 4 million euros in a deal expected to be announced when players become eligible to move next week, according to a team source.
“We expect to sign a player in the transfer window and when we’re prepared to announce that, we will,” Revolution sporting director/head coach Bruce Arena said. “That window doesn’t open up until next week. So, we’ll have something in the works over the next week or so, I hope.”
Vrioni, 23, played for Italian junior national teams before making his senior debut with Albania in 2018. Last season, on loan to WSG Tirol from Juventus, Vrioni scored 17 goals, second in Austria’s Bundesliga. The league’s leading scorer, Red Bull Salzburg’s Karim Adeyemi, earned a $33 million transfer to Borussia Dortmund.
Vrioni started his professional career with Sampdoria, which sent him on loan to three Italian teams, including Venezia, coached by former Revolution goalkeeper/coach Walter Zenga.
In January 2020, Juventus paid a $4.3 million transfer fee to acquire Vrioni. The same month, the Revolution acquired Buksa, who had played for Novara FC in Italy, paying $4 million to Pogon Sczcecin in Poland.
Vrioni, listed at 6 feet 2 inches, likely will not present as effective in the air as Buksa, who scored 35 goals in 74 games in all competitions and was working on a seven-game scoring streak for the Revolution before moving to RC Lens in France in May.
Vrioni made his debut as a 16-year-old with SS Matelica in Italy’s Serie D in 2014 and moved to Sampdoria the next year. In 2016, Vrioni performed for Italy’s U-18 national team, but two years later switched to Albania, playing for Italian coaches Christian Panucci and Edy Reja. Vrioni competed for Pistoiese in 2017-18, and Venezia in 2018-19. In 2020-21, Vrioli made his first team debut with Juventus, but missed most of the season with a broken fibula. He joined Tirol last year.
The Revolution rarely participated in the transfer market until 2019, when they added Carles Gil for $2 million from Deportivo La Coruna. Along with Buksa, the Revolution have paid out for forward Gustavo Bou ($6.7 million) and winger Dylan Borrero ($4.5 million), and sold Tajon Buchanan to Club Brugge and goalkeeper Matt Turner to Arsenal FC (both $7 million).
Other MLS teams have experienced similar success in the transfer market, but it can be challenging to make such transactions work on a relatively small scale and working within league spending caps. Teams such as Los Angeles FC (Gareth Bale, Giorgio Chiellini) and Toronto FC (Lorenzo Insigne) are focusing on high-profile imports. The Revolution, meanwhile, have been content with spending less on lesser names and hoping to profit.
The strategy has mostly worked, though the team has fallen short in the playoffs.
The Revolution (6-5-6, 24 points) will take a nine-game unbeaten streak into Sunday’s game against FC Cincinnati.