Montreal technical director Adam Braz said Friday the signing of central midfielder Saphir Taider from Italian sibling club Bologna and central defender Zakaria Diallo were “imminent," and on Saturday the latter was finalized.
There’s a lot for Braz to be excited about in terms of Taider, who will be the club’s latest Designated Player. There’s the 100 games played at Europe’s top level, 38 appearances for Algeria and the fact he’s 25 years old.
“He’s going to bring a lot to the team,” Braz said. “He’s someone [Impact head coach] Remi [Garde] wanted and identified as a guy who was important and he believes in the project as well. He’s excited to come to our club and to be part of Major League Soccer. It’s a good signing for us.”
Braz said the length of the deal — three years with a one-year option — also speaks to Taider’s commitment level.
“I think he’s going to play a very important role in terms of us trying to be successful and win trophies,” Braz said.
In Diallo, the Impact will get the experienced central defender they desperately need.
With two of the top seven picks in this year’s draft, the Impact were in prime position to poach some of the top young collegiate talent available. But Garde said the club’s decision to trade both picks — No. 4 overall went to FC Dallas for $200,000 in Targeted Allocation Money and No. 7 overall was dealt to Minnesota United for $150,000 of TAM — spoke to the club’s commitment to their young players.
He said he wants those players, especially the ones in the Impact’s academy set-up, to view that as a message.
“I believe there are quite a few young players who can break the line to go through to the first team,” Garde said. “They have to receive it like a message that I believe they have the ability to come to the first team.”
Plus, an additional $350,000 of TAM positions Montreal well to select additional players.
“We came in with an objective and a strategy to maximize the value of the picks in terms of getting money in return. I think we did that,” Braz said. “Part of that discussion was based on what we have coming through in the academy and making sure that when we’re looking at players in the Combine, that we’re comparing them and taking into account what’s coming through from within.”
Braz said it's also critical to have as close to a full squad together for the opening of preseason, especially with a new coach at the helm. Preseason begins next week.
“It’s very important, something we discussed internally,” Braz said. “We had conversations with Remi about the makeup of the squad going into preseason. We do our best in terms of trying to get that done. Sometimes signings, especially international signings, take longer than we would like. But certainly the idea is to have as many of the squad ready to go on the first day so Remi can start working with [them].”