BARCELONA SIGN MONTREAL PROSPECT
Montreal Impact’s most prized prospect is headed to the biggest club in world football. In what is a tremendous statement of notoriety for the Impact, attacker Ballou Tabla has signed for FC Barcelona for an undisclosed fee.
“This first transfer is an important moment in the history and evolution of our club,” Montreal Impact president and owner Joey Saputo said in a club statement. “We take a lot of pride in seeing a young player, developed in our academy, climb the ladder all the way to the first team and realize his dream to play in Europe with a big club like Barcelona.”
Tabla, 18, signed a three-year contract with Barcelona with two additional option years. According to Barcelona’s announcement, the buyout clause during the first three years of the deal is set at 25 million euros; the buyout clause after the first three years rises to 75 million euros.
Tabla only played one MLS season with Montreal, recording two goals and two assists in 21 regular season games in 2017. The youngest player in Impact history to play appear in MLS, Tabla signed a first-team contract with Montreal in October 2016. Tabla joined the Impact academy in August 2012, then left the club in December 2013. He rejoined the Impact academy in April 2015, then played with FC Montreal in USL in 2016, the same year he was named Canada’s Under-20 Male Player of the Year.
He becomes the first Impact academy grad to be sold to a European club. He’ll join Barcelona’s reserve team, Barcelona B, which competes in Spain’s second division.
JACK THE LAD STILL NYCFC TALENT… FOR NOW
Despite Rundown’s headline yesterday regarding Jack Harrison’s potential transfer to Stoke City, NYCFC head coach Patrick Vieira is still talking up the possibility that Jack will remain in MLS.
“There is a possibility for him to stay, the same way there’s a possibility for him to go,” Vieira said in a conference call with reporters. “But at the moment he’s here, he’s working really hard and I’m really pleased with the way he’s been conducting himself the last two days, but Jack has always been good.”
“We have a game on the [fourth] of March and he’s getting ready for that game,” Vieira said, referring to the club’s regular season opener at Sporting Kansas City. “Anything else, the club, Claudio, is dealing with it.”
Vieira declined to discuss Stoke’s bid, which Rundown sees as something of a smokescreen.
“The only thing I can tell you is since the first day Jack’s been working really well, he’s been working really hard,” Vieira said. “At the moment, he’s with us and his focus is for him to get back physically stronger as he was last year. He’s doing really well.”
MAN TURNS UP FOR WORK
In stark contrast to Lee Nguyen and Cyle Larin, Justin Meram is showing his current employer the respect to at least show up for preseason training.
Justin Meram may want to depart Columbus after making it known to head coach and sporting director Gregg Berhalter that he was interested in moving away from Columbus but he remains part of the squad as things stand and has not skipped a session.
Both Berhalter and Meram acknowledged the uncertainty at Crew SC’s first media availability of the year this week. The pair said they had a closed-door meeting in the days before camp began, and Meram said the player and coach have a fine relationship.
“We have respect for one another as we have for the past five years,” he said.
While some players choose to deal with a trade-request scenario by holding out of camp, Meram decided to practice. And while he said he didn’t want to speak for others in his position, Meram felt his place was with his teammates.
“I know who I am as a person and as a teammate,” he said. “I think I handle myself differently. But I can’t speak for other players and their situations. I’m sure it’s completely different, and I know my scenario is very different because of how much respect I have for this club and this coaching staff. So for me, it was right for me to be here and train and take it one day at a time.”
Berhalter hasn’t ruled out a deal to send Meram away, but has maintained that the club’s asking price will be very high. He said he reiterated that to Meram, who Berhalter said was “very understanding” of Columbus’ high valuation of him.
“We were very clear about the expectations we’re looking for in a deal,” Berhalter said. “We’ll consider something if those expectations are met, and if they’re not met, we won’t consider them. He’s too important to this group to give him away for something that’s not going to significantly benefit the club.”
CONFUSION OVER TORRES
It was only a few weeks ago when it looked like Erick ‘Cubo’ Torres would be making an imminent move to Mexico, but after talks fell through between the Houston Dynamo and Veracruz, Torres was back in Houston for the Dynamo’s first training session of the 2018 preseason.
It was after that practice session that Torres told the Houston Chronicle that he was looking to fulfil his contract with the Dynamo: “I spoke with my family and agent about the options, and we all agreed that the best thing for me was to stay here with the Houston Dynamo.”
Cue Mexico City-based club Pumas UNAM announcing the acquisition of Cubo Torres on social media with a comment to the tune of “welcome to your new home”.
Rundown expects to see him unveiled in Mexico very soon.
Any Other Business…
Orlando City have offered Lens center back Dusan Cvetinovic a contract, according to a French report… According to a report out of Colombia, Harold Santiago Mosquera could be bound for the US after his club, Millonarios, received a $4 million offer from FC Dallas for the 22-year-old… Vancouver Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson is considering switching to a system incorporating three central defenders.