Laurent Ciman hugs Diego Rossi-RSL-LAFC-3.10.18

For the first time since his “shock” trade to LAFC in the preseason, Laurent Ciman is returning to Montreal.

On Saturday (1 pm ET | Full TV & streaming info), LAFC will face the Montreal Impact, a team the center back had three productive seasons with before being traded on Dec. 12, 2017 in one of new coach Remi Garde’s first moves.

“It will be an emotional match, that’s for sure, but I have to leave the emotions in the locker and to be competitive on the field,” Ciman told the Canadian Press. “I won’t be giving any gifts … I’m going to try to enjoy myself on the field like I do in every match.”

The 32-year-old Belgium international isn’t interested in revisiting why he was traded — “I do not know and I do not even want to know.”

But he does have fond memories of his time with the bleu-blanc-noir.

“I experienced three beautiful years here,” he said. “On a personal level they were fantastic years. On a professional level there were ups and downs, but that’s soccer.”

After being initially blindsided by the trade, Ciman said he and his family are enjoying their life in southern California and he’s enjoying his soccer under Bob Bradley at LAFC.

“You know that I only think on a personal and professional level,” he said after practice. “I’m doing well down there. I’m treated well. My family also feels great.”

Ciman, who has started all five matches for LAFC to increase his total to 90 consecutive regular season starts in his MLS career, said he’s excited to see some of his former teammates, including Ignacio Piatti, who he’ll get a chance to go head-to-head against for the first time on Saturday.

“Nacho is one of the best attackers in the league,” Ciman said. “If I had to choose a player for my team, I would take him not only for his qualities on the field, but also off-the-field because he’s a good person.”

While he admits it’s an emotional return, and he will likely get a warm reaction from the Stade Saputo crowd, Ciman comes back to Montreal with peace of mind and no regrets.

“I’ve always been honest with the players, the fans, the administration and reporters,” he said. “I don’t regret anything and my mind’s at peace. I know what I’ve done well and what I’ve done not so well. I’m a human. I have my faults and I try to move forward with that.”