MONTREAL – Hernan Bernardello was not at Montreal Impact training on Wednesday morning. Rather, he was in Mexico City, undergoing a physical.
As was first reported by Mexican daily Récord, Bernardello received an offer from Liga MX giants – and CONCACAF representatives at the next FIFA Club World Cup – Cruz Azul, Montreal head coach Frank Klopas regretfully confirmed.
“I know, from the club standpoint, that we made a very strong offer to keep him here and I know his intentions were to stay here,” Klopas told the media on Wednesday. “But sometimes, in football, last-second, a club comes in, a big club like that, and puts an offer on the table that, for the player, is hard to turn around.”
Bernardello and his agent notified the Impact of the potential move this weekend. Montreal and the player had been negotiating a new contract since early 2014: Bernardello's current deal includes an option for two-and-a-half more seasons, but the Impact deemed the option too pricy to be triggered.
Negotiations looked promising. The new contract would have made Bernardello one of the best paid Designated Players in his position, Klopas said. But Cruz Azul’s offer dwarfed any figure Montreal could put forward.
As no option was exercized, Bernardello’s departure would involve no compensation from Cruz Azul to Montreal. But it would allow Montreal some roster budget leeway to add to bulk up their central midfield.
“There are a lot of possibilities out there, whether it’s European players or guys within the World Cup that will be finishing, that will be available,” Klopas said.
Bernardello is expected back in Montreal on Wednesday evening. Should the move to Mexico materialize, he will join Cruz on July 1. But he could, theoretically, still train with Montreal and play at the Vancouver Whitecaps on June 25 and at home to the Houston Dynamo on June 29.