Wilfried Nancy. Romell Quioto. Victor Wanyama. If things remain as they are, the contracts of these three important CF Montreal players will expire next December.
Posted at 6:00 a.m.
But Olivier Renard advocates patience. Not least because Nancy and Quioto have one-year options attached to their deals anyway.
“We have time”, explains the sporting director and vice-president of the club during an interview of about forty minutes with The pressThursday.
We are in one of the Center Nutrilait classrooms. Outside, the club’s training has just started. Renard evokes his calm tone that we learned to know during more than three years spent in Montreal.
That’s what I said to Romell, like to several other players: I don’t discuss contracts with players anymore. I know the players, I was like them. If you argue now, you will change your mind.
He wants “everyone to finish the season well to go as far as possible”.
“We will have time in the offseason to see what we do with X, Y, Z. They have options. Having an option is a contract. »
He applies the same logic for his head coach. Even if the latter led this team assembled with a small budget to a third place in the East, at the time of going to press.
You must not believe that Wilfried and I do not speak to each other. Of course we are talking. He knows my vision of the future, I know his. He is relaxed. I’m relaxed too. […] He knows that I am very happy with his work.
Why then not confirm this satisfaction by extending his contract beyond his one-year option? This is what this same Olivier Renard did in 2021, after two consecutive defeats, while Wilfried Nancy still had the label of interim head coach.
“It’s not because we are very happy with the staff now that all of a sudden, I will give five years of contract, he underlines. I never will. Let’s see what will happen. We are very confident and happy. […] I want to see the team improve. The potential of the players which improves. And then we discuss it. He’s not out of contract.
“In the past, the club had situations where they had to pay several coaches at the same time because of the dismissals. I’m not saying Wil is going to be fired. That’s not it at all. But in the future, you never know. »
Victor Wanyama, “a lovely person”
The case of Victor Wanyama is a bit more complicated. He has no options on his Designated Player contract. His salary weighs heavily on the payroll. And despite his status as a pillar of defensive midfielder, at 31, he is not getting any younger either.
“These are discussions that I must have with him, assures Renard. It will happen soon. Victor is a lovely person in the locker room. He brought a lot of things. »
If the sporting director notes with satisfaction that Wanyama “plays 95% of the matches”, he qualifies when speaking of his “age” and his “investment price”.
“Does the club prefer to invest again for this same position when we may already have other players who can play? Do we keep Victor because he’s an important person in the locker room? We have already weighed the pros and cons. Afterwards, it’s up to me and Victor to talk about it. »
“There are several clubs on Ishmael”
Our interview with Olivier Renard comes minutes after Ismaël Koné confirmed Norwich’s interest in him during a press conference. A rumor that had resurfaced a few weeks ago.
The sporting director keeps saying he can’t talk about Norwich. Even if he adds in the wake that he has “never had an agreement with a club”.
Koné said he was “grateful” for this first offer received from a European club. Fox fixes it.
I know it’s not the first club yet. There are several clubs on Ishmael, as there are several clubs on other players with us.
“The transfer window is not yet closed, advises the sporting director, referring to the fact that players can still leave MLS. […] We also had other offers for him from other clubs. It’s the truth. »
He adds that he will never stop a player from “following their dreams”, “because everyone [en serait] losing”.
“But the player knows he won’t leave for the price of a bottle of sparkling water. »
Development according to Olivier Renard
“I don’t care what other people do”
Olivier Renard persists and signs: there is no need for CF Montreal to join the MLS Next Pro, this new development circuit organized by MLS.
And this, even if the Bleu-et-noir will become next year the only team in the league not to be part of it.
“I’m going to be a little raw, but I don’t care what the others do, loose the sporting director during an interview with The press. I know how much it costs to do this category, when we can very well train our players in another way and it costs us less. »
The inaugural MLS Next Pro season is underway. There are 21 teams, of which about fifteen are the reserve teams of MLS clubs. The average age of players is 21 years old.
CF Montreal, meanwhile, chooses to play its young players in its backyard. Its U23 team plays in the Premier League Soccer du Québec (PLSQ) championship, a semi-professional circuit.
A decision that raised eyebrows at the start, remembers Olivier Renard. But it still does not move today. Especially since the Montreal team does not dominate too much: it ranks 5e rank out of 12, with 7 wins in 13 games.
Everyone laughed at the PLSQ. Me, I saw matches where our young players were ridiculous. Before you think you’re going to play against amateurs, well, you have to win all your matches first. Then maybe the club will say that this category is not a category for our young people.
The truth must be told. We don’t have 25 talents in the U23 who will all become starters in MLS.
“Good players, we follow them. I know it’s not the greatest competition. But us, as a club, it already costs us a few million less not to organize the MLS Next Pro. Although it would also make money, if I’m being honest. »
Olivier Renard even affirms that certain teams tell him today that he “perhaps made the right choice”.
“You become another person”
The sporting director talks about money to justify his decision. But not only.
Apart from the PLSQ, there is also the Canadian Premier League (PLC), where he can send good talent on loan. An interesting track, which notably allows these players to acquire a “personality”.
“My choice also comes from the fact that I know that we don’t have 25-30 players ready to be part of the first team. There are five or six that we can loan out in PLC. With this fact, move. That’s what people forget. Because with the MLS Next Pro, people would stay here, in Montreal.”
Me, I like when they go to build their character elsewhere. That they not only become professional players, but adults.
He gives the example of defender Karifa Yao, on loan to the Calgary Cavalry. From goaltender Jonathan Sirois, with the Winnipeg Valor. And forward Sean Rea, at that same Manitoba club. These three players could make their mark in Montreal as early as next year.
“The Sean Rea of today is not the Sean Rea of last year, underlines Renard, a declaration which he also attaches to the two others. He was asked to be more decisive, with more assists and more goals. »
“Players like that, who are from Montreal, always with mom and dad, always in the little cocoon, they become men when they go there. Having to manage to eat alone, being alone in the evening, without the family. You become another person. »
The Woobens Pacius case
And speaking of PLC, there’s another Montreal talent that’s turning heads right now. Forward Woobens Pacius, who plays with the Hamilton Forge, has 10 goals there this year and ranks second among the top scorers.
Pacius is a former member of the Impact Academy who was invited to training camp before the 2021 season, without however reaching an agreement with CF Montreal.
“We knew the qualities of Woobens, assures Renard. I will even tell the truth: I participated in trying to find him a club. He was coming back from two fairly serious injuries and deserved to play. »
Like Joel Waterman, the first player to make the leap from PLC to MLS, does Pacius have the potential to join the big leagues?
“Is he going to come back to us one day? Maybe. We will see. Will he continue in another MLS club? We keep the rights of the player. […] But not everyone can play with us either. »