Life at Barcelona has gotten off to a good start for Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla.
The former Montreal Impact Homegrown, sent to Barca’s B team last month in one of the biggest transfers in MLS history, made his debut Saturday in a 1-0 loss to Alcoron. And according to an ESPN report, he “impressed playing on the right of a front three" as a second-half substitute.
The report also said the 18-year-old Canadian international trained alongside Lionel Messi and the rest of Barcelona’s first-teamers for the first time Monday.
📸 |— BarcaTimes (@BarcaTimes) 12 février 2018
- Adria Ortola, Tarin, Marc Cardona, Cuenca and new signings Ballou Tabla and Marcus McGuane trained with Barcelona senior team today.
-Gerard Pique has also returned to training, while Ousmane Dembele has suddenly fallen sick he has some stomach problems. pic.twitter.com/anhOr91WmQ
"Ballou's a player that has that special spark out wide," Barca B coach Gerard Lopez said in a news conference. "We were struggling to break [Alcorcon] down and he had two or three good moments where he beat a man.
"But he's not just good in one-on-one situations, he's also good at linking up with his teammates. His adaption is a work in progress still, due to the language and everything that comes with the move. But he's an 18-year-old kid with a lot of potential and he could be important for us."
Speaking with reporters Saturday after his Barca B debut, Tabla — who was born in the Ivory Coast — discussed a conversation he had with Ivory Coast legend and former Montreal Impact star Didier Drogba.
“He’s very proud,” Tabla said of Drogba. “He tells me to work harder, that it's just the beginning and to work harder and harder every day to express myself."
For more on Tabla’s relationship with Drogba, his reaction to getting a call from Barcelona, and his early impressions of the level of play in Spain, you can read the entire article here.