Rémi Garde on Bacary Sagna

The French full back has spent his entire career in Europe’s big leagues

The Montreal Impact made waves on Wednesday night, a few hours before the transfer window closed for the 2018 season, by adding three new players to its squad. One of those players was French international right-back Bacary Sagna. For those who follow the beautiful game on the other side of the Atlantic, let’s just say the name rings a bell.

“Bacary is a player with a lot of experience, and a very good defender,” said Impact head coach Rémi Garde. “He has a versatility that can be interesting. He’s also a player with a technical and athletic level that can benefit the team.”

But the most important factor Sagna brings to the team is his vast experience. The 35-year-old defender spent a decade playing in the Premier League, for Arsenal and Manchester City, featuring in over 250 games in England’s top division. He brings an international pedigree to the table as well, playing a vital defensive role with France through 65 caps during his career.

His potential contributions on the field are obvious for the Bleu-blanc-noir, but his attitude off the field will also benefit the entire squad.

“He’s a very positive personality,” said Garde. “He has a certain aura with the people around him. The fact that he’s played with huge clubs in England for a long time shows an important professionalism on his end. It’ll be interesting for some of our younger players, and for those who haven’t experienced Europe’s high level, to discuss with him and see how players get to such a level.”

Connections with the head coach

Although Bacary Sagna and Rémi Garde don’t know each other personally, the two had a chance to speak before he officially joined the club. Both are also former Arsenal players, and although they never played for the Gunners at the same time, they were both under the tutelage of the club’s former long-time manager, the great Arsène Wenger.

“It was brought up during our conversation that we both wore the same colours,” said Garde. “Discussing with him, he had already begun asking me questions – the type of questions you don’t tend to ask if your career is just starting. Considering where he is in his career, it makes him question a team’s tactics and how the team in question prepares for a game. We spoke about that together, and obviously our point in common was Arsène.”

Sagna, on his end, was also familiar with Rémi Garde and his experience, both as a player and as a coach. The French head coach had an important part to play in bringing over a player of Sagna’s stature to the Bleu-blanc-noir.

“He’s a good salesman, that’s for sure,” said technical director Adam Braz. “It’s important to have a coach with so much experience, and with a large network in France, but also in Europe. When he talks to a player to explain the project, the club, and the league, players listen, He has the ability to convince and seduce.”