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Saputo sees role for Bologna in developing Impact youth

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The Montreal Impact will debut a new reserve team in the third-division USL-PRO in 2015.

That move is more or less mandated by Major League Soccer’s developmental agreement with the United Soccer Leagues that was struck back in early 2013.

But, Impact owner Joey Saputo is creating another path for the Impact’s young players, as well. Certainly, improving the Impact’s young prospects wasn’t the prime motivation for Saputo to join a consortium that purchased Italian Serie B side, Bologna. But he knows an improvement to the Impact’s youth development stream is a byproduct of the deal.

When his stake in Bologna was announced in mid-October, Saputo said that the Impact’s top prospects would get the chance to go to Bologna and spend quality time with the Italian side’s coaches. He said it’s always been a struggle for the Impact to fine meaningful loan or training spells for its young players.

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“Now that I own a team, it will be a lot easier for us to do,” Saputo said. “One of the things we don’t have in North America is that soccer culture.”

Saputo pledged that his ownership role in Bologna, which includes a renovation to the stadium, won’t distract him from his Impact duties.

“It’s not going to affect ownership of Montreal Impact at all,” he said.

But he pledged to help bring the team, which was once a great power in Italian football, back to Serie A.

“It really doesn’t matter if I am a majority, minority or equal partner. The group understands what it takes to bring the team back to its glory days.”

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