Lassi Lappalainen, as his loan neared its end amid COVID-induced uncertainty across the sports world, remained happy with the Montreal Impact.
Those feelings should continue for the 21-year-old, as the Impact announced on Tuesday the extension of his loan from sister club Bologna FC 1909 through the end of the 2020 season. It originally was set to expire at the end of the month.
"We were thinking of a few other options, but last year I was happy here," Lappalainen told MLSsoccer.com. "I got playing time, I did good. I’m happy about another six months here. This is the best option right now.”
The other options included heading to Bologna's first team as Serie A returns or finding another loan. Ultimately, it made the most sense for the Finland international to remain in MLS.
“When I’m feeling good with the team, I play better," Lappalainen said. "That’s how it’s been here and I hope I can play as much as I can. I’m happy here, it’s a good place.”
Over his first few months with Montreal, Lappalainen settled in pretty quickly. He had five goals and an assist in 11 appearances (681 minutes), adopting to a more physical and faster league than what he was used to. Lappalainen also placed eighth on last year's MLS 22 Under 22 player list.
GOAL: Lassi Lappalainen with a goal in his MLS debut
He's now in pretty good hands, considering his manager is legendary forward Thierry Henry.
“Everything he says, I listen," Lappalainen said. "Everything he says is good stuff. I have a lot to learn from him."
Lappalainen was only 6 when Henry led Arsenal in their iconic Invincibles season, so his memories of the Frenchman come from Barcelona and the New York Red Bulls. The Impact represent Henry's second head coaching gig, with AS Monaco the other, and Lappalainen is impressed thus far.
“Our playing style is pretty good for me right now," Lappalainen said. "We like to press, we like to play fast. We’ve played great football.”
Lappalainen, who helped Finland qualify for the European Championship, is focused on these next six months. He hasn't yet broken into Bologna's plans, as he was sent straight on loan to Montreal after arriving from HJK.
“I’m going to do my best and I hope Bologna sees me as useful for them, but maybe six more months here or somewhere else," Lappalainen said. "I want to be ready when I got back to Bologna.”