Chiumiento conflicted upon his departure from Vancouver

Davide Chiumiento and James Riley

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VANCOUVER, B.C. – Davide Chiumiento is moving on to FC Zürich after two MLS seasons with the Vancouver Whitecaps, and he's leaving with mixed feelings.

He’s happy to be moving back to Switzerland so he can be closer to his daughter and his parents, who both live in areas about an hour away from Zürich, but is disappointed by what he perceived to be a lack of a concerted effort by the club to hold onto him when the Swiss club made an approach.

Chiumiento had about five months left on his deal with the Whitecaps, and said the club never seemed interested in giving him a more concrete long-term offer, while Zürich put a three-year deal on the table.

“Of course [I’m disappointed],” Chiumiento told MLSsoccer.com by phone on Tuesday. “I mean, as a player, I would have loved to have stayed here. It’s a great place to play football because people here love soccer also now. It’s really growing and it’s a beautiful place to live. But I have to see for my future, but I didn’t feel they – I don’t know how to say, but I felt it was the best decision for me. That’s football.”

When pressed about whether he would have stayed if the Whitecaps offered him equivalent financial terms to the deal on offer at Zürich, Chiumiento suggested it wasn’t just the cash – he just didn’t get the sense he was in the team’s long-term plans.

“It’s not just about money,” Chiumiento said. “I could have stayed even for less here, but it has to be something where I can be happy. When you’re 27, you have to look for your future. It wasn’t all about money, it’s about trying to make a player happy who wants to stay, and that’s it.”

As for the Whitecaps, club president Bob Lenarduzzi said there have been ongoing discussions since around the time of head coach Martin Rennie’s appointment about Chiumiento potentially moving back to Europe, based on the player’s wishes to be closer to his family.

With that feeling that the Swiss-Italian ultimately wanted to head back to Switzerland, Lenarduzzi explained that a potential long-term deal was never seriously explored.

“We never really got into any serious discussion on a contract,” Lenarduzzi told MLSsoccer.com by phone Wednesday. “Ultimately, the desire to be closer to home was what factored most into the deal happening.”

Still, regardless of whether the deal was primarily made over Chiumiento’s feeling of being unwanted or over family considerations, the club feels they got what they bargained for from the player labeled the “Swiss Ronaldinho” upon his arrival.

“When he first arrived, I remember suggesting at the time that he was the kind of player that would excite the fans,” Lenarduzzi said. “He certainly has had those moments over the course of time that he’s been here.”

As for Chiumiento, he says while he enjoyed his spell in Vancouver and feels he’s become stronger and fitter than ever before, the final decision just came down to which team wanted him more.

“I wanted also to be fair to Vancouver,” Chiumiento said. “I wanted to give them a chance also to speak and see what happened here. But, at the end of all, it was not enough – not money-wise – but it wasn’t what they wanted to do, or how they thought about me, so I had to make a decision.

“So, for me, Zürich was a good chance.”

Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.