The Montreal Impact may have just swapped presidents, with owner Joey Saputo handing the reins over to Kevin Gilmore, but the MLS club’s owner is still the chairman of Bologna and the clubs will again be sharing resources.
And if the latest move goes as well as some of the previous ones, well, look out.
Orji Okwonkwo is joining the Impact on loan, reunited with teammate Saphir Taidir. The Algerian was one of the stars of a Montreal season like Blerim Dzemaili and Marco Di Vaio before him.
Okwonkwo, 21, won the U-17 World Cup with Nigeria in 2015, scoring in the semifinal win over Mexico.
He’d sign for Bologna, and was seemingly on the brink of stardom after scoring three Serie A goals in 10 appearances last season.
Remi Garde famously handed loads of responsibilities to youngsters while leading Lyon, including a Maxime Gonalons and a very young Alexandre Lacazette. He’d later hand increased duty to Samuel Umtiti.
While few would put Okwonkwo in that camp, his chances of growing quickly in MLS are a bit better than Serie A. Point is: Garde is willing to trust kids.
Expecting him to thrive at Taidir or Dzemaili levels is a tall ask, admittedly, and there have been a number of Bologna players who haven’t been stars in MLS (Deian Boldor, Daniele Paponi, and Andrea Pisanu, though the final two contributed more than the first).