MONTREAL — The Montreal Impact acquired winger Lassi Lappalainen on loan from Bologna FC.
Lappalainen’s loan is guaranteed for the remainder of the 2019 MLS season and involves targeted allocation money. The Impact have an option to extend the loan until June 20, 2020 and another option to extend the deal until Dec. 31, 2020.
“I want to go forward with the ball. I want to dribble,” Lappalainen said Thursday when asked to describe his game. “I want to make good passes and goals and I want to work hard for the team so we can succeed.”
The 20-year-old Finland international previously played at HJK Helsinki. He scored six goals in all competitions in the 2019 season with the Finnish capital club.
Remi Garde rejoiced the arrival of his newest player. However, he stressed that Lappalainen was not a player that would solve all of the Impact’s worries.
“He’s got a good future ahead of him, but he isn’t a saviour, we shouldn’t see him in that way,” Garde said. “We need to put him in the best conditions. He is reserved but also mature in his game so he isn’t scared on the pitch.”
Garde added that two of Lappalainen’s most attractive aspects are his maturity and that he’s already in game-shape from his time at HJK.
“I see in training a player that thinks a lot, that doesn’t ask himself questions,” Garde said. “He is in the offensive and defensive transitions. There’s a maturity, a tactical culture and a football culture that seems interesting to me.”
Lappalainen could be available as soon as Saturday for the Impact’s clash with the Philadelphia Union. Garde said that as of Thursday morning there were some administrative details left to secure, but he was confident to have the new player available by then.
Switching up the XI
Lappalainen primarily plays the left winger position, a part of the field Ignacio Piatti normally occupies. Garde admitted to testing out the 4-2-3-1 formation during Wednesday’s Canadian Championship game. The Frenchman took turns playing Piatti and Maxi Urruti at central attacking midfielder.
“He plays the same position as Nacho. Which is in this spirit that I wanted to see Nacho playing a different position yesterday, Saphir (Taider) as well,” Garde said. “I always say that we should have a bit of pragmatism, not be stuck in a 4-3-3 that might not play the elements that deserve it.”
Back at HJK, Lappalainen played on the left wing but also had stint on the right wing and as supporting striker.
“I prefer the left but I can still play on the right side, it’s not a problem. The right is alright too,” Lappalainen said.
Two Finns in Montreal
Lappalainen joins fellow Finland international Jukka Raitala with the Impact.
“He’s a really good guy, he helps me a lot,” Lappalainen said of Raitala. “He takes me to training. It’s good that there’s another Finnish guy.”
Raitala said it’s been a while since he played club soccer with another player from Finland. The defender related to what Lappalainen is currently going through as a fellow Finn leaving his country.
“I was 20 when I left Finland, and for him to go to the other side of the world is a big change,” Raitala said. “He knows that I’m there for him if there’s anything he needs, and I will help him for sure.”