The Impact yesterday signed four Academy products to professional contracts as Homegrown players for the 2021 season, and each of Jean-Aniel Assi, Sean Rea, Nathan-Dylan Saliba, and Rida Zouhir are available can play in the Champions League game(s) pre-Christmas in Florida. All are midfielders.
“Even though the season was quite disrupted, we continued to follow the development of our young players,” said Montreal Impact sporting director Olivier Renard. “We are very happy to be able to give these four talents from our Academy the opportunity to join the first team.”
Winger, Assi (16) played for Royal Beauport before joining the club in 2017. More recently, he was part of the Academy U23’s and participated in the 2020 first team training camp. Jean-Aniel was named on the Concacaf U15 tournament All-Star XI in 2019. He opened the scoring for Canada in the semi-final against Slovenia (UEFA-invitee), but the game was lost 1-2 after extra-time.
Ivory Coast born, lives in Blainville.
Saliba, also 16, played for CS Longueuil before joining the Academy in 2017 and has been a member of the Impact’s U23 team. Nathan-Dylan was also a team mate of Assi’s in Canada’s U15 squad in the CONCACAF tournament in Bradenton, Florida, last year.
Longueuil born, lives in Longueuil.
Rea, 18, from Laval is the oldest of the quartet. He’s been at the Academy since 2014, having joined from St-Léonard, and is another who played with the U23’s. Sean represented Canada in the U17 World Cup in Brazil, in 2019.
Montreal born, lives in Laval.
Zouhir (17) from Montreal, has been part of the club’s Academy since 2016. Rida played for the U17 team in 2019, then joined the U23 squad last summer. He represented the Braves D’Ahuntsic before joining the Montreal Impact.
Montreal born, lives in Montreal
“These young players have come a long way in the past year and have the potential to join the pros,” said Montreal Impact Academy director Patrick Leduc.
“Jean is a very fast winger with impressive athletic qualities. In addition to having a lot of speed allowing him to dribble past his defender on a one-v-one situation, he also has a good shot.
“Nathan-Dylan can play any position in the midfield. He’s shown a very steady progression since joining the Academy. A complete player, he is an athlete capable of adapting to every situation, thanks to his winning mentality.
“Sean is creative and can be an attacking spark. Able to make the last pass, he also has the ability to dribble. He’s faced adversity in the past year and has responded in an exemplary manner.
“Finally, Rida has the character and personality to make his mark in the midfield. Good with both feet, he asserts himself with his professional attitude.”
Each player-agreement for 2021 is effective immediately and are assorted with a three-year options.