Fans of the Montréal Impact will lament his loss, but there can be no denying; Didier Drogba is gone. He was probably one of the biggest names to ever come to MLS, and certainly the biggest to ever come to Canada. His shoes will be very large, and it will take someone special to replace him.
Perhaps a 23 year old kid from Québec City can give it a shot? (Yes, he’s from Québec, even if he has the Montréal skyline tattooed on his arm!)
Now, I understand that many here are skeptics by nature, and many more simply don’t trust unexperienced players. Even more dislike the notion of developing and building local talent when we could simply import a solution. That is simply a reality of the Montréal mindset. However, I maintain that Jackson-Hamel is fundamentally a different type of player.
Firstly, he loves Montréal (see tattoo for reference). As long as the Impact exist, we do not have to worry about him running off for a more lucrative contract. Loyalty matters, as Drogba proved time and time again, when he lit the Twitterverse on fire with transfer rumours. In Jackson-Hamel, we have found a player with whom we can identify, and who has a deep commitment to his club.
Secondly, he is only 23. Most soccer players hit their prime in their late 20’s, and can have careers well into their 30’s. The Impact could reasonably profit from a career striker that loves his city well into the next decade. The fact that he does not cost a lot, and is a homegrown player merely compounds his value to the club. Jackson-Hamel is a great return on investment. He already has one career goal in MLS in only 3 appearances, all late game substitutions. This is simple economics.
Jackson-Hamel needs minutes this year. He’s proven he can score with a quality team around him, as he has done for the Montréal Impact. He has also proven that he can score with an awful team surrounding him, as he did while playing for the Canadian National Team. That’s versatility!
Matteo Mancuso will not be a long-term solution for the Impact, as he will eventually return to Italy. He is also only a single player, and cannot possibly compete in all 32 games of the MLS regular season for 90 minutes each. Everyone has limitations.
Anthony Jackson-Hamel is the in-house solution that Montréal will need this year. He might not fill Didier Drogba’s shoes just yet, but that’s no reason to prevent him from trying.