Many, many eyes were on the Stade Saputo field, this Wednesday morning, for Blerim Dzemaili’s first training session with the Montreal Impact.
The new Designated Player stepped onto the grass of the Sherbrooke St. arena alongside his teammates, who were all delighted to meet him – or, in some cases, to see him for a second time.
Goalkeeper Evan Bush had gotten acquainted with Dzemaili the previous day, at Centre Nutrilait. This was thus an opportunity for him to see first-hand just how calm his new colleague is on the ball.
“He’s playing balls from central areas out wide, and you see the weight of the pass, the calmness in which he plays under pressure, things like that,” Bush said. “You see that with the top guys, and he’s certainly showed that. It certainly wasn’t a strenuous training today, which was probably on purpose for him – you don’t want to have him get off a flight and work like crazy –, but in those simple passes, you can see the quality.”
Defender Laurent Ciman, for his part, had already taken on Dzemaili at the international level on May 28, 2016, in Geneva. Belgium won 2-1 then, but the home side’s goal was scored by… Blerim Dzemaili.
“He’s a technical player who plays simple,” said Ciman. “He’s got a good shot, which is an asset for us. We’ll have to use it well. Coming in, he’ll also free up space for Ballou [Tabla], for Nacho [Piatti]. We can make the difference on both wings and in midfield. It’ll be good for us. We gain quality, and we put pressure on the other teams.”
That shot was featured in training, as Dzemaili’s first attempt thwacked the post. But Evan Bush, who’ll face the shot every day at Centre Nutrilait, had done his homework.
“I’ve seen some clips,” Bush said. “It’s a great weapon to have. You see a lot of the top teams get those late runners that can finish from the top of the box, and it’s certainly an added dimension. If a lot of guys are focusing on what Nacho, Ballou, Dom or any of those attacking guys who attract a lot of attention are doing, that late runner into the box is going to be very important for us.”
And what did the man himself think of this first session?
“It was really, really good,” Dzemaili said. “The team has some important players as well as young players who want to play and do well in games. I saw quality in this squad, and I hope that this quality can translate into good games.”