MONTREAL – Hernán Bernardello was not at Montreal Impact training on Wednesday morning. That's because he was in Mexico City, undergoing a physical with the champions of CONCACAF.
As first reported on Tuesday by Mexican daily Récord, Bernardello received an offer from Liga MX club Cruz Azul, Montreal head coach Frank Klopas 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 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 [down].”
Bernardello and his agent notified the Impact of the potential move this past weekend. The two-time Canadian champions and the Argentine holding midfielder had been negotiating a new contract since early 2014 – Bernardello's current deal includes a club option for two-and-a-half more seasons, but the Impact deemed it too pricy to be triggered.
Still, negotiations on a new deal – one which still would have made Bernardello one of the best-paid Designated Players in his position, according to Klopas – looked promising. 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 the Impact 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 Azul 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.