MONTREAL — Zorhan Bassong wants to be part of building something new with the Montreal Impact.
And it doesn't hurt that joining the club will bring the young Canadian defender back home.
Bassong said he had several offers and discussed the options with his family before signing a two-year contract with the Impact on Tuesday. The deal includes two additional option years.
“As soon as I spoke with (Impact sporting director) Olivier Renard, I felt convinced about this project. I felt like he was ready to build a new project where young players will play," said the 21-year-old Montreal-raised fullback.
"This is what convinced me to come here. I just wanted to be part of this new project. And at the same time, I will be close to my family, close to my friends, close to my homeland.”
Bassong was 14 when he left home to train in Europe. He returns to Canada after playing for Cercle Brugge in Belgium's Jupiler Pro League, and previously played 31 games for Lille's reserve team in France.
The five-foot-nine defender made his debut for the Canadian national team in January, and was later named to the U-23 national team roster for the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament.
Work on bringing him to Montreal has been underway for some time, Renard said in a release.
"We preferred to wait to make the announcement to avoid destabilizing the players in his position, and achieve our 2020 goals," he said.
Veteran Montreal defenders Rod Fanni, Jukka Raitala and Jorge Corrales all have contracts that expire at the end of 2020.
While Renard described Bassong as a versatile player who can fit in anywhere along the backline, the young defender said his preferred position is left back.
“I like to do the runs back and forth," he said. "When I play left back, I like to attack. I like to participate offensively, to help the team score goals, to get some assists.”
Bassong won't be available to join the Impact for the team's upcoming CONCACAF Champions League fixture.
Though he has returned to Montreal, he's currently in quarantine with his family.
The Champions League tournament will see the Impact face Honduran club CD Olimpia on Dec. 15 in Orlando. The matchup is the second leg of the quarterfinal, coming after Olimpia beat the Impact 2-1 when the teams played the first leg at Montreal's Olympic Stadium in March.
The tournament was then postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The winner of the series will face either New York City FC or Mexico's Tigres UANL in the semifinals on Dec. 19. The tournament's finale will be played on Dec. 22.
The rest of the Champions League games will be played without fans.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.
The Canadian Press