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Turning Heads But Still Learning, Impact’s ZB-G.

Young Canadian international Zachary Brault-Guillard hitting the heights, but keeping feet firmly on the ground.

MLS: Montreal Impact at New York Red Bulls
Zachary Brault-Guillard in typical fashion, gets a cross in despite the attentions of Red Bulls’ Kemar Lawrence.
Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Remi Garde knew he had a potential gem on his hands when acquiring the loan of Zachary Brault-Guillard.

Anyone who’s captained Olympique Lyonnais II’s at the tender age of 20, must have talent. The rest is about buffing up that precious stone and making it ready for use.

Garde, who knows how important it is for a young player to grow in life as well as on the field had this to say upon welcoming Brault-Guillard to the club. “Zachary will reinforce the Impact’s defensive unit. He’s a young Franco-Québécois who grew up humanly and sportingly within Olympique Lyonnais’ youth teams. He has the potential to progress, through daily contact with the Impact’s other professionals.”

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at Montreal Impact
Remi Garde, will continue to play an important part in the development of Zachary Brault-Guillard.
Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Brault-Guillard is in good hands then, for not only is he familiar with Quebec, but his head coach at Stade Saputo is steeped in the ways of player development at Lyon, where ZB-G has spent all his footballing life since 2011.

Then there’s Bacary Sagna. A French international of some distinction, with a CV containing 2 World Cup Finals and a Euro Finals tournament, a player so well thought of in England, his fellow-pros voted him onto the Premier League Team of The Year, not once, but twice. He plays in ZB-G’s position.

Who better to understudy?

Combine the experience he will get in Montreal, to the dedication, commitment and youthful exuberance already shown and you wonder how this could ever go wrong.

It’s really up to the young man himself. His all-action style and eye-catching sprints forward on the right flank have delighted those who closely observe the Impact. He brings an energy to the side, evident from his first game as a starter at DC United. A tenacious and speedy surge forward that night took him into the opposition box. The finish wasn’t quite there, but he came closer than anyone else in the game to breaking the deadlock.

Others a little more discerning will point to recent games against Cincinnati and New England, when opponents found a way past the outside of the young Montreal full-back rather too easily, think Mattocks, Penilla and Jones.

There were concentration lapses last Saturday, most obviously when he let Bunbury in by leaving a pass short to his goalkeeper. Another occasion saw Remi Garde screaming and gesticulating at the static youngster from his technical area, to get forward into the wide open space for a short corner, as Urruti prepared to take.

Such situations will always arise with young, inexperienced players. The good ones always recognize their weaknesses, learn from mistakes and improve, and the long and short of it is Montreal Impact currently possesses a promising alternative to Bacary Sagna, who at 36 now, cannot be expected to play every game.

MLS: Chicago Fire at Montreal Impact
Mentor, Bacary Sagna. The former Arsenal and Man City man has been there, done it and ... has the T-shirt.
Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

ZB-G will also rapidly ascend a little further up the learning curve when, as he must, get some opportunities to add to his 3 caps for Canada in this summer’s Gold Cup. That’s not particularly good news for IMFC, as he’ll miss MLS games, but it’s important for the player’s development, and for his country.

Not 21 until the penultimate day of 2019, there’s no doubting Brault-Guillard’s natural talent and high levels of ability. By continuing his footballing education and gaining experience in learning from the best, it presents a wonderful opportunity for him to make his very own mark on the game.

Whether ultimately that will be in Montreal, or in Ligue Un, well, that remains to be seen.