There were more questions than answers raised at the conclusion of the End-of-Season Montreal Impact press conference, at which all of the playing staff and the coach traditionally face local media.
Of all those available - four players are away on international duty - only Piatti failed to appear.
He had been at the Nutrilait Centre earlier in the morning to speak with new Sporting Director Olivier Renard. Nothing at this moment is clear, but it looks like not everything went well during those discussions, or at least not everything was yet concluded.
Impact spokesman, Patrick Vallee was forced to explain to the assembled press, who remained seated awaiting Piatti’s appearance, that the Argentinian would not be available for questions, even though he was expected to face the the press like the rest of his team-mates. Vallee went on to explain also, the Impact had advised the player they intended extending his stay at the club, by exercising the contractual option to keep him throughout 2020.
This all happened after Karifa Yao and Daniel Kinumbe had been the last two players to face journalist’s questions at the front, with the journalistic throng still wondering whether Piatti would make an appearance, or not.
It’s clear the club had not intended to announce their decision to extend Piatti’s stay, today, instead preferring to wait for all elements to be securely in place, but due to the player’s non-appearance, the club probably felt forced to set out their position, there and then.
The player for his part may have felt unready to face the press with the issue still unresolved, which strongly suggests there’s a sticking point.
After initially declaring this would be his last season in Bleu/Blanc/Noir, Piatti seemed to have a change of heart recently. He has been quoted on more than one occasion stating a preference to remain in Montreal, and it was really up to the club to decide if it wanted to exercise the additional 12-month option.
Now that the club has, one wonders why everything doesn’t yet seem right. Much speculation and the emergence of conspiracy theories followed as the gathering tried to make sense of developments.
Was Piatti all along intending to move on? Was he so sure the Impact would not exercise the option, and felt secure in positioning himself as wanting to stay, so to not to damage the love affair with his adoring fans?
Is the Impact using its business head, knowing Piatti wishes to leave, but by exercising the option to keep him, they can now command a fee from another club for the player’s services?
It’s unlikely either of these scenarios hold water.
Piatti has been an exemplary player, a role model, on and off the field during his time in Montreal. He’s not given to controversy, is considered an individual of high integrity, and it’s difficult to comprehend him subscribing to this scenario.
For the club’s part, if they didn’t really wish to keep Piatti, why would they risk offering him top dollar for another year. Surely not just so they could command a nominal transfer fee for a player entering the twilight of his career? This would represent too great a gamble, in the event the player agreed to stay.
Perhaps, Piatti, with things not yet completely finalized and some doubt in his own mind surrounding the whole issue, was simply not ready to face journalist’s questions?
Perhaps he’s looking for a two-year extension, and the club only wishes to offer one?