TRANSFER TRACKER STATUS: Roster Update
It's official: Ignacio Piatti is under contract for another season with the Montreal Impact. The club announced the decision on Thursday's contract deadline day, along with a host of other decisions on key contributors from the 2019 roster.
The 34-year-old midfielder's future had been a subject of great interest for a number of months, with indications at the end of 2018 being that the following year might be Piatti's last with the club he's become an icon for since joining in 2014. By the end of the 2019 season, though, signs started to point to a return with the Impact. President Kevin Gilmore indicated that the team would pick up Piatti's option while the player himself said in October, "If it was up to me, I'd be here no problem."
Now, new head coach Thierry Henry will have the opportunity to work with one of the league's most prolific attackers. Across the MLS regular season and playoffs, Piatti has notched 71 goals and 38 assists for the Impact, and was a crucial figure in their run to the 2015 Concacaf Champions League final and the 2016 Eastern Conference Championship, which they lost in one of the all-time great playoff series against archrivals Toronto FC.
More recently, the Impact lifted the Voyageurs Cup after defeating Toronto in the 2019 Canadian Championship final, taking the sting out of a season in which they did not make the playoffs. The cup win also marked a high point in the year for Piatti, who was limited by injury to just 11 league appearances but picked up Canadian Championship MVP honors after scoring in each round of the tournament.
In addition to picking up Piatti's option, the Impact made official the permanent transfer of Saphir Taider — a key piece of their midfield — from sister club Bologna for the next two seasons. The club also extended the loan of winger Lassi Lappalainen from Bologna until June 30, 2020, and hold another option to extend his loan until the end of the year.
Taider is a technically gifted box-to-box midfielder and an Algerian international who has featured in all but three of the Impact's 68 regular-season games since he joined the club ahead of the 2018 season; he has 16 goals and 15 assists in that time. Lappalainen, meanwhile, was a summer 2019 arrival and made an instant impact with a brace on his debut. The 21-year-old Finn ended up tallying five goals and an assist across 683 minutes in 2019.
Outside of those moves, the Impact exercised options on goalkeeper James Pantemis, defender Jorge Corrales, and midfielders Clement Bayiha, Mathieu Choiniere, Samuel Piette, Romell Quioto, Amar Sejdic and Shamit Shome. Quioto was acquired from the Houston Dynamo in a trade late on Wednesday, with defender Victor Cabrera going the other way.
The club did not exercise options for goalkeeper Jason Beaulieu, defenders Daniel Kinumbe and Thomas Meilleur-Giguere, midfielders Omar Browne, Ken Krolicki, and Jeisson Vargas, as well as striker Anthony Jackson-Hamel. The club said that it is in discussions to bring back Jackson-Hamel for the 2020 season.
Finally, goalkeeper Clement Diop, as well as defenders Bacary Sagna and Rod Fanni, are out of contract, while season-long loans for defender Zachary Brault-Guillard (from Olympique Lyonnais) and midfielders Ballou Tabla (FC Barcelona) and Orji Okwonkwo (Bologna) have come to an end. The club said in a statement that it is in discussions with "most of these players."