During their brief time in Major League Soccer, the Montreal Impact have done things that have garnered attention around the soccer world. Whether it’s making a run to the Champions League Final, or signing legendary striker Didier Drogba, the Impact have made headlines around the globe. Later on this week, expect them to grab a few more international headlines.
As technical director Adam Braz announced on Tuesday morning, the Impact are on the verge of sending young winger Ballou Tabla to a European side. According to Steven Goff of the Washington Post, Tabla is likely heading to Barcelona. Of course, that doesn’t mean he’ll be joining their first team, but he could land on their B squad as early as this week.
Assuming the transfer is completed, it will be the first time the club sells one of its homegrown players.
Tabla made it clear that his goal was always to play in Europe, but things seem to have accelerated at a quicker pace than anyone could have anticipated. The 18-year-old spent just one year with the Impact’s first team, appearing in 21 games and starting 11 of them. He finished 2017 with two goals, two assists and 26 shots.
There’s no doubt that the team would have wanted to keep him in the fold for a longer period of time, but sticking with a player that doesn’t want to be around might not be good for team morale.
“I don’t think it’s disappointing at all,” Braz said on Tuesday morning. “It’s exciting. I think it’s something that we as a club should be proud of in terms of having a young player that came through our academy, that we developed and that went on to play for the first team. He’s a player that had ambitions to play in Europe, that we knew about. And this is an opportunity for everyone to win.”
Last August, Tabla skipped a training sessions because he wanted to send a message to the club that he wasn’t willing to just sit and wait for an opportunity in Europe. The teenager returned to the team, got back in the lineup and later admitted that he could have handled the situation differently.
None of that matters anymore. Tabla will not attend training camp with the Impact because a move is imminent. Braz wouldn’t mention how much money or how many teams were specifically interested in acquiring Tabla, but he did admit there was more than one.
Even though the Impact are saying that this is positive news, you can’t help but feel like this isn’t the way they wanted to it to go. Seeing him go to Europe isn’t surprising, but the fact that he’s gone after just one year with the first team has to be a little disappointing for Montreal.
Many Impact fans are wondering why the club was willing to part ways with Tabla now and not last year. Simply put, the offers the team received for the youngster last year weren’t good enough. Now, it sounds like they’ve received a concrete offer they’re willing to accept.
“At that moment, in terms of what was presented to us, that it didn’t make sense at the time,” added Braz. “We analyze each situation on its own and see if it makes sense for us, and this one did make us to move forward with.”
Not only does the move likely make sense from a financial standpoint, it probably also makes plenty of sense from in terms of timing. The Impact can use all of training camp to figure out who they’ll start on the wings. That’s a luxury the team didn’t have last August because the MLS season was in full swing.
Also, the opportunity to share a headline with Barcelona had to be appealing for the much smaller Impact club. It’s not every day that an MLS side makes international headlines. The fact that those global headlines were made because one of the biggest clubs in the world wanted to get one of your players in their system is also pretty appealing.
(Feature Image Credit: Getty)