Ismaël Koné’s exercise in transparency


Until the next transfer of the genre materializes, the rumor mill will run wild from time to time. This was the case at the end of July, when information linked the fate of midfielder Ismaël Koné to that of Norwich City, an English second division club. The news disappeared as quickly as it emerged, but here we are, two weeks later, still talking about it. It’s the world of footballobserved the young Montrealer on Thursday.

We do not comment on rumors, the people of the Impact usually repeat when a clever scribe tries by a devious means to extract some statement about a transfer from them. Renard himself echoed this unofficial club motto on Saturday on TVA Sports.

But the Belgian ended up bending it to clarify certain details of the flirtation between Norwich and Koné. Yes, there have been offers for some players this summer, including Koné. No, there was never an agreement with anyone.

Some sports directors are not afraid to lift the veil on the mechanics of their work. Fox is one of them. It’s less common to hear a player speak candidly about his contact with another club. However, this is what Koné did on Thursday, without skimping on the details.

They came knocking on the door, Koné said. They made an offer, concretely. They came to look at me. The club was interested. Afterwards, we did not agree on business, we’ll say. I do not have any problems. I will always be grateful to Norwich. This is my only European offer from another professional club. It’s something big for me, despite everything, even if it’s just an offer. It went well. It ended well.

All smiles, he celebrates a goal with his teammates.

Ismaël Koné (right) scored his first goal with CF Montreal last March against Santos Laguna, in the knockout stages of the Champions League.

Photo: The Canadian Press/Graham Hughes

The only European offer, either. Probably not the last, however. We are talking here about a Canadian international who, if he does not fly to Qatar this fall, will certainly aim for a ticket for that of 2026, when he will have behind the tie a record more substantial than his 2 goals and 3 assists in 22 MLS, Canadian Championship and Champions League games.

So it’s only a postponement. Koné has also recognized this: Norwich had become an objective after the first contact. Europe remains an attractive project for the vast majority of players, especially since Canadian coach John Herdman, with calculations in support, has repeatedly encouraged current and potential internationals to try their luck at the highest possible level. .

For now, Koné wants to focus on his progress. It’s probably a wise choice: he who was a constant in the Montreal squad in March and April, he lost rhythm and only participated in 10 of the 17 Bleu-blanc-noir meetings thereafter.

A few pitfalls, but nothing to destabilize the young man. The fact that he is all the same at home may have something to do with it. Koné became aware of this a few years ago, when he spent months in Belgium for trials. Home comfort is conducive to development, he argues. And he says he is well surrounded in the Montreal locker room.

I think that compared to my early career, so young, in Montreal, the whole locker room helped me in its own way, underlined Koné. I talked to Victor a lot [Wanyama]Kei [Kamara]Rudy [Camacho], last year to Kiki Struna. There are people outside of football too. The coach also advises me, all the coaching staff, the physical trainer. Everyone helps me make the right decision for my future, and I’m so grateful for that. I am lucky to arrive in this locker room, and everyone saw my flaws and was able to help me in their own way. It helped me grow this year.

Surround the players well, take the time to carefully weigh each decision. History has taught us that not all transfers are created equal. If that of a Luis Binks in Bologna, for example, seemed to result from a successful reflection, the departure of Ballou Tabla remains the unfortunate example associated with local products on the rise.

Left for FC Barcelona B at 18, after a hasty process, Tabla never settled there. Five years later, he played for Atlético Ottawa, in the Canadian Premier League, where he finally emerged as a leader. This was not the intended career path.

We talked about it. Ballou is about the same thing, but they are two different situations, Koné maintained. He had his thing, I have my thing. These are different situations. I don’t necessarily think of Ballou when I make my decision. But I spoke with people who explained to me his situation, how it went with him, and I only take good things. I only remember good things.

Tabla had only played 24 games with the Impact’s first team before flying to Catalonia. Koné is essentially at the same point in his career path. He will not go tomorrow morning to Norwich, which is not Barcelona. All that remains is to wait for the next rumor not to be commented on, but which we may comment on.

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