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Kyle Bekker: A Welcome Addition

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Call me a contrarian, but I think Bekker will make an excellent midfield option for the Impact

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

I firmly believe that l'Impact de Montréal walked away with the better deal in the exchange of Malian-American Bakary Soumaré for Kyle Bekker. You're more than welcome to disagree, and ultimately his performance on the pitch will silence or embolden his critics. However, you have to admit, the metrics of this deal are pretty good for the Impact.

The Dollars and Cents

Baky was an expensive player. If his salary is anything close to what he was making in Chicago last season, he'd be pulling in nearly 330,000 dollars (USD) per season. That's not insignificant in an era of salary caps and league parity, and the fact that the Impact are rumoured to be signing new designated players only adds to the monetary pressure. The release of Soumare will free up the majority of his annual compensation that counted against the salary cap, and Kyle Bekker, assuming he makes a similar salary to his worth at Toronto FC (~$100,000 USD), will come in at around 1/3 the price of Soumare. That's a substantial savings for a team that is overtly budget conscious.

Long Term Viability

Kyle Bekker is 24. He's not even in the prime of his career yet, and he's got nowhere left to go but up. He will continue to get national team exposure, and playing in World Cup qualifiers is an excellent skills test for a young player, and should not be overlooked. He is also young enough that if the Impact decide to keep him, he could conceivably play for 6+ seasons with Montréal while not occupying an international roster slot, or taking up too much cap space, all while playing the prime of his career.

Soumare has neither of those advantages. He is capped at the international level for Mali, despite also holding US citizenship. He is also 29, which limits the amount of time he could spend with a club that is clearly working on a long term strategy spanning several seasons.

Different Tactical Advantage

Soumare brought experience to the position of central defender. With Wandrille Lefèvre gaining confidence, Victor Cabrera improving his fitness and Hassoun Camara due to return from injury, the Impact's back-line will see reinforcements for stalwart Laurent Ciman and fullbacks Donny Toia and Ambroise Oyongo. Soumare was benched because he lacked versatility, and was outplayed by younger, faster players like Wandoo. His experience and reputation demand that he get playing time - and that would have meant benching a more effective defender. Trading Baky makes sense for both parties in this case.

Kyle Bekker on the other hand, brings diverse skills to the midfield. He can play a traditional box-to-box midfielder role, and is more attack minded than he is defensively capable. I can actually see him starting immediately in the Impact line-up in one of two positions. First, as a central defensive midfielder, starting beside Calum Mallace in a traditional 4-2-3-1. In this line-up, Donadel would be pushed into the central attacking midfield position, forcing Piatti to his natural position of left-wing, where he is more comfortable. Secondly, I see potential for Bekker to start a game as a central attacking midfielder in a 4-1-4-1 or 4-4-2 formation, should Frank Klopas decide to alter tactics. In both cases, Bekker becomes the forward CDM, while Mallace stays behind to solidify the defensive line.

Kyle Bekker is also a welcome addition for his skill on set-pieces.

The National Team Effect

Kyle Bekker is no stranger to Maxim Tissot and Patrice Bernier, as they've been playing together on the national team over several tournaments and friendy matches. He has also built chemistry with U-23 member Jérémy Gagnon-Laparé, who will most certainly earn his place with both the senior squad of l'Impact de Montréal and the national team. This chemistry will add cohesion to our midfield performance. Additionally, each national team game will give experience, additional training and tactics, as well as offer high calibre opposition to Bekker, which will improve his club play.

Secondarily, it shows other members of the national team (looking at you André Hainault and Samuel Piette) that Montréal is a destination in the MLS for national team players.

Hopefully, Kyle Bekker works out as a long term midfield option for le bleu-blanc-noir.

Bienvenue à Montréal Kyle, et lâche pas.