“It’s a new page” - Ballou

Ballou determined to help the team make the playoffs

It was no secret: Ballou wanted to go to Europe. So, after his only season with the Montreal Impact, during which he broke a handful of club records, Ballou was transferred to Spanish giants FC Barcelona for a club record fee. Just like that, the Impact’s homegrown midfielder’s wish came true.

Now, Ballou’s back where it all started, with the club whose Academy he joined when he was just 13 years old. And he’s hungry.

“This is a new page,” said Ballou Tabla, meeting the media in Montreal for the first time. “I come here with a lot of motivation and a need to prove myself, and I’m very happy to be here.”

For months, he played for FC Barcelona B, occasionally training with the first team alongside the likes of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. He would be loaned out to second division side Albacete Balompié at the beginning of this year for a few months, before eventually returning to the Catalan side.

“I’ve experienced a lot in the small amount of time I left,” said Ballou. “I’ve learned a lot as well and I continue to learn every day from those with more experience than me. I’m still young. I hope I can bring what I learned with Barca to the Impact.”

Ballou joins the Impact with just eight regular-season games left and the club fighting to maintain its playoff position. Montreal will also play the second leg of the Canadian Championship semifinals this Wednesday against Cavalry FC, after taking the first leg 2-1 at Stade Saputo.

Competition for minutes will be intense up front; Montreal has options offensively following a successful transfer window in which they picked up two more attacking players in addition to Ballou, namely Lassi Lappalainen and Bojan. Still, when home comes calling, it’s difficult to say no.

“We’re always well-off at home,” smiled Tabla. “I didn’t even think about it. I had an opportunity to come back and help the team. So, I came back home.”