MONTREAL — After a loan deal in 2019, Ballou Tabla is back at the Montreal Impact for good.
The Impact re-acquired the former homegrown signing from Barcelona B on a permanent transfer Wednesday. Tabla signed a two-year contract with options for the 2022 and 2023 seasons. In the event of a future move, Barça B would retain 20 percent of Tabla’s transfer fee.
“I’m very happy to have a deal with the club,” Tabla said “I’m very happy to see the field again and I hope that this year will be a good season.”
Tabla has something to prove after an unsuccessful spell at the Catalan giants. The Canadian international played two seasons with Barcelona B, one in the Spanish second division and one in the third division, racking up three goals and two assists.
He was also sent out on loan on two occasions: At Albacete Balompié where he only played two games in the Spanish second division and at the Impact where he made four appearance in 2019.
“On a personal level, I have a lot of things to improve, but what’s more important is what happens on the field,” Tabla said. “I think the fans are expecting results on the field and to hear less about what happens off the field. I’m mentally ready for that.”
Toronto FC jersey incident behind him
The 20 year-old also recognized, and made amends, for the incident that enflamed Impact fans in late December. Tabla posted a video on Instagram where he trained while wearing a Chris Mavinga Toronto FC jersey.
Tabla apologized on Tuesday over Instagram. He said: “I would like to apologize to the organization and all its fans for the actions that I made a few weeks ago. I had no bad intentions when I wore my friend Chris Mavinga’s jersey during a solo training session. They are the Impact’s biggest rival and I should have thought so before wearing it. I know that the club’s colors need to be respected at all times. I always took pride in wearing an Impact jersey and to represent this city.”
He explained during the second day of preseason training day Wednesday “there was no motive behind it. I’m not dumb enough to provoke fans on purpose.”
“I didn’t think of it in [a bad] way,” Tabla said. “[Chris Mavinga] is a friend, I spoke with him and he made the same mistake. I saw that some people took it in a certain way, I had to apologize and now we move forward.”
Learning from Spanish experience
Now back in Montreal, Tabla said he will take from what he has learned in Spain to help him grow in North America.
“I gained a lot of experience and now I know how it works across the pond,” Tabla said. “If ever I need to go back, I’ll be mentally ready for that.”
The winger stated he isn’t coming back to where it all started in order to better a return to Europe. He intends to further develop his career in Montreal and if Europe comes calling, he may pick up the phone.
At 20 years of age, Tabla is still well within the discussion for the Canada men’s Olympic qualifier squad. While he had to skip the latest national team camp due to illness, Tabla is still in talks with head coach John Herdman and U-23 coach Mauro Biello.
“We communicate to see how I’m doing and discuss about the future at the national team,” he said.