Barcelona are close to making another January addition with Abidjan-born Ballou Jean-YvesTabla set to sign from Major League Soccer (MLS) side Montreal Impact.
The attacking midfielder, who can also play on the wings, will join the Barcelona B side for the remainder of their campaign in the Segunda Division (Spain's second tier).
The 18-year-old came through the academy with the MLS side before being promoted to the first-team. He made 21 appearances in the league for Impact last season contributing with two goals and as many assists.
Barcelona see him as one for the future and have made their move to add him to their academy. According to Spanish publication Mundo Deportivo, Tabla has already arrived in the Catalan capital to complete his move and is expected to straight away link up with their B team, who are struggling in the relegation zone in the second division.
Tabla was born in Ivory Coast but grew up in Canada and has been with Impact since 2012. He has also been called up to the Canada Under-17 and U20 squads but is yet to make an appearance.
The MLS outfit's technical director Adam Braz confirmed recently that they were in discussions with an unnamed club over a permanent move for the attacking midfielder but refused to divulge the name. He, however, revealed that it was a European club and believes Tabla's move is a positive one for the club as it shows other players at the academy that they can forge a path into Europe by excelling in the MLS.
"It's something we as a club should be proud of in terms of having a young player that came through our academy, that we developed, that then went on to play with the first team," Braz said, as quoted by the National Post. "He's a player who had ambitions to play in Europe and this is an opportunity for everyone to win."
"It's an exciting moment in terms of the evolution of the club. But it's also a signal to our young players in the academy, and young players who are not currently in the academy, that there is a pathway not only to the first team, but eventually to be transferred to Europe," he added.
The Catalan giants have thus far completed five deals in January with two incomings and three players leaving the club. Philippe Coutinho and Yerry Mina joined Barcelona while the current La Liga leaders sanctioned exits for Javier Mascherano, Rafinha and Arda Turan.