What I am about to tell you may surprise you. It may anger you. Above all, it may frighten you. Brace yourselves…
Lord Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla the IV may not be here next year. The best player the province of Quebec has ever produced (maybe Canada? I know, I know, he’s actually Ivorian), could be playing for Anywhere, World (fictional city) by this time next year. He’s that good. Meanwhile, despite this potentiality, this fearful future, our unbelievably talented winger/midfielder/awesome-player-wherever-he-plays is… a bench player?
Wrong (insert Trump giphy here). The glorious BJYT IV is not only a clear starter, he’s arguably Montreal’s most talented player. This idea that IMFC needs to nurture his talent and take him along slowly is a bad idea short term and long term.
Talent has no age
The future is now for Baby Ballou. Sure, he’s only 18 years old, but who cares. Take a look around the world and tell me how things have turned out for teams who’ve started their teenagers in recent times. Dele Alli is maybe the No. 1 reason why Tottenham is making a title run in the EPL. He’s easily been one of his team’s best players over the last two seasons, and he just turned 21.
Okay, you’ll say, but Alli is an old man compared to Tabla. Fine. Heard of some guy named Pulisic? Yeah, Christian Pulisic, a driving force on a perennial Champions league team at Borussia Dortmund. He’s also arguably the best American player in the world right now, full stop. He’s 18 years old.
Tom Davies has been key to Everton’s rise in the last few months up the EPL table. He’s also just 18. Marcus Rashford doesn’t usually start for Manchester United, but few would if some guy named Zlatan was ahead of them on the depth chart. Still, at the ripe old age of 19, he’s already appeared in 37 games for United and scored 10 goals.
I could go on, find more teenagers who are currently getting loads of playing time for their respective clubs, clubs who are almost certainly much bigger and deeper than that of Montreal’s, but I think you get the point. Taking it slow with young, talented athletes is a North American sports concept. In the world of football, if you’re good, you play, period.
Playing on the world stage… even in Montreal
In the long term, it’s a bad idea to limit Tabla’s minutes, because, simply put, there may not be a long term: And it won’t be anyone’s fault.
Despite the fact that Tabla plays for the Montreal Impact in a relatively smallish league compared to those in Europe, his exposure is bigger than you’d expect. For the average football scout, there is no league or team too small to find the next big star, so if you think Tabla’s scattered moments of brilliance have gone unnoticed, think again.
The next thing you have to understand is that, unlike the other major sports in North America, MLS is not the final, ideal destination for most players. Even for players currently playing on some of the best teams in the world, in the best leagues, even they may have higher aspirations. Such is the world of football: always a new, bigger opportunity right around the corner.
So, with an almost inevitable move for the Tablatic One on the horizon, it’s all the more reason to play him as much as humanly possible from here on out. And it won’t matter if he gets glued to the bench and continues to show but brief glimpses of brilliance from game to game. A thousand scouts around the globe whose task it is to find the next big thing are watching, and ready to pounce. Contracts in football are unlike any other in American sports. If a player wants to leave badly enough, he will: that is simply the nature of the sport, and one IMFC need to get used to.
Oh and, he’s awesome
Besides, why wouldn’t you start him every game? From a pure excitement/marketing standpoint, nobody outside of Ignacio Piatti will get the fans out their seats more than Tabla. He’s a human highlight reel waiting to happen and has already contributed to the Impact’s success this season. Outside of striker, he’s looked dynamic at all three attacking positions behind Mancosu. He’s also not looked out of place defensively, the only thing I can imagine is holding him back from more playing time.
Besides the fact that he’s done nothing but impress this season in limited minutes, one of his competitors for a starting role, Dominic Oduro, has looked more like his 2015-self, which is nothing to write home about. I can understand Biello’s hesitation in taking Patrice Bernier out of the starting XI, as he has looked better than anyone since the beginning of the season, but a straight swap of Oduro for Tabla seems more than feasible.
At the end of the day, Mauro Biello simply needs to recognize the kind of talent he has on his hands, and proceed accordingly. If that means leaving another good player on the bench or even changing formations, so be it.
Tabla Time is now. Take advantage of it my dear Mauro, because there’s no telling how long it may last.