MONTREAL – The changes promised by Joey Saputo? Yes and no.
The Impact’s squad is indeed starting to change, but their front office had already tried to bring Issey Nakajima-Farran – a former teammate of team captain Patrice Bernier at Denmark’s Nordsjælland – to Montreal before the 2014 season, only for Toronto FC’s discovery claim to stymie their attempts, Impact sporting director Nick De Santis said on Friday.
De Santis was thus delighted to land the Canadian international – and allocation money – in return for midfielder Collen Warner.
“Some teams were interested in [Collen], and for us, with Toronto – one can think ‘Why [archrivals] Toronto?’ –, we had to see what we could get for him,” De Santis told reporters. “Issey is a player with a certain experience, a Canadian and a player that has qualities that fit our way of playing.”
Warner, a 2012 original who was well-liked within the squad, learned about the move on Thursday, while Nakajima-Farran was called to BMO Field early on his 30th birthday, Friday morning. Nakajima-Farran’s last kick for Toronto was the final penalty kick in the shootout that qualified them for the Amway Canadian Championship Final against Montreal.
Both players are cup-tied, however, and will not face their former clubs before August 3, the first of two league games between Montreal and Toronto this season. But head coach Frank Klopas is hopeful that Nakajima-Farran will make it to Washington for this Saturday’s MLS game against D.C. United.
“He can play some different spots,” Klopas said. “He can play out wide, he can play underneath. He’s a technical player, smart in possession, he’s an experienced guy. It wasn’t an easy decision, because Collen has done a lot and given a lot to this organization. … In the middle, I think we have some good depth there.”
Montreal could thus afford to let Warner go, especially since stability at left midfield has been an issue which Nakajima-Farran could address.
The Impact must also make a decision this summer regarding central midfielder Hernan Bernardello, whose contract includes an option for two-and-a-half more years that the club can trigger.
“Bernardello is an important player that we’ll try to keep in Montreal,” De Santis said. “When we talk about losing a central player, Felipe used to play there when he started with the Impact, and that’s another option. We can move Felipe around if Bernier or Bernardello [miss games] because of fatigue or performance, and Issey can also play behind the forward.”
Olivier Tremblay covers the Impact on MLSsoccer.com