Well, there you have it, the shake up has officially begun. The Laurent Ciman trade has understandably sent shock waves throughout the Impact community and the MLS. Clearly, trading a former defender of the year will always be a big move. Apart from his on-field abilities, Ciman was also much loved by the fans for his heart and dedication. I think that big presence will be missed as much by the fans as his on-field performances. However, this trade is not all negative. In exchange for the 32-year-old Ciman, the Impact received the young versatile Canadian international Raheem Edwards as well as Jukka Raitala. I know this is a sensitive subject with all of you, but I will try to objectively list the positives and negatives of this trade.
Why It’s a bad trade:
· We gave up our defensive pillar: Ciman has led our defence ever since he joined the Impact from Belgium in 2015. Even when he wasn’t at the top of his game, Ciman still barked out directions and cemented things at the back. Now, our cement is gone. That formidable, scary blue-eyed cement has moved to LA and the Impact will definitely need to find a new adhesive agent for their back line.
· We gave up our Général: While I’m sure that not every player in the Impact’s locker room loved his big and vocal style, every unit needs a strong general. As Montrealers, we have all seen the affects of a heartless locker room. This trade definitely has a P.K Subban feel to it in the sense that we just traded away the heart of the locker room. If we add that loss to the retirement of Captain Patrice Bernier, we can wonder who will step up to fill those leadership shoes. Hopefully Samuel Piette and Ignacio Piatti will be able to fill the void left by the loss of two of the most influential players in Impact history.
· We lost a fan favourite: While the feelings of fans are never the first priority of management when they make a deal, us fans definitely think we should be considered. I have seen many Ciman jerseys at games and he definitely attracted fans to the stadium. For a team that already struggles to fill up their stadium, trading away a fan magnet like Ciman will hurt the clubs bottom line as well as the atmosphere in the stadium.
Why it’s a good trade:
· We won the age game: Ciman is 32. I don’t need to explain that players do not get any younger. Yes, he had an amazing first season with the Impact but as he has gotten older, those remarkable performances have become fewer and further between. Ciman is not getting any better while on the other hand, Edwards is 22 and entering the prime of what looks to be a promising career. By the time Ciman’s career is at its very end, hopefully Impact fans will still be watching Raheem Edwards punish his old team.
· Ciman is replaceable: I know, there is nothing certain in the transfer market but that doesn’t mean that the Impact cannot go out and find themselves another top-level center back. It can also be argued that for the 800 000 a year we were paying Ciman, he was overrated. With a salary like that, you would expect our defence to be one of the best in the league, but the harsh reality is that it wasn’t, and a large part of that blame does rest on Ciman’s shoulders. We have now freed up considerable amounts of cap room that we can use to pursue the Impact’s next great center back. Rather than seeing this a loss, we can see this trade as a chance to go out and sign a new young exciting center back to lead our back-line for years to come.
· This is now Rémi Garde’s team: For better or for worse, the Impact’s new coach has made his mark on this organization. It is clear that a move of this amplitude must have been signed off on by the coach. This sends a message to all other players that he is here to do business. Garde now has the opportunity to build from the ground up and construct a team that reflects his view of the game and what the Impact should become. Last year, we struggled defensively, and this trade should be seen as his first step to solving that problem.
Many Impact fans were angered when they saw such a charismatic player as Ciman being dealt away. I had the same reaction when I first saw this deal announced but I hope that I have helped you realise that there are definitive positives to this trade. The single biggest factor as to whether this is or isn’t a good move will be who the Impact bring-in to replace Ciman. If Ciman is not adequately replaced, this is clearly a move for the worse. However, the Impact, via this trade, have already turned Ciman into a versatile winger and an experienced left back. If we can then use the cap space left by his departure into a new exciting center back, then this trade could be a positive for the Impact. Ultimately, we will judge this trade by the team’s performances on the pitch when the Impact kick off their 2018 campaign.