Tabla’s move to Barcelona is met with a collective Canadian “meh” By Steven Sandor Posted on January 25, 2018 2 0 304 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Tabla: Refused Canadian invite So, a Canadian player makes the move from an MLS team to Barcelona, and the collective response from this country is… Meh. On Thursday, the Montreal Impact announced that the transfer of Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla to Barcelona for an undisclosed fee. Now, of course, the cynic will point out that Tabla, like any young player, will start at Barcelona B. But, in terms of optics, it won’t matter if he starts with Barcelona X or Y or Z. He’s wearing that blue and red strip, and that means there’s a chance, for La Liga glory, right? But, judging by the lukewarm reaction this has received in Canadian soccer circles so far, it’s fair to say that the football followers in this country — the people who have dispatched the likes of Owen Hargreaves and Asmir Begovic into their own emotional black holes — have already given up on Tabla ever wearing Canada red again. It feels like Barcelona just signed some phenom from some other country. Eleven months ago, Tabla — who was Canada’s U-20 player of the year in 2016 and was previously part of Canada’s national U-17 squad — refused coach Rob Gale’s invite to join the Canadian squad for the CONCACAF U-20 Championships. Of course, that began a firestorm of message-board discussions that the player wasn’t going to play for Canada ever again. The Canadian U-20s were already terribly shorthanded due to a rash of injuries, and Tabla was sorely missed as the team failed to qualify for the U-20 World Cup. Since then, Tabla has yet to appear for Canada at any age level — though, to be fair, Canada hadn’t had a lot of camps over the past several months. Canada Soccer has updated Tabla’s profile on its website; it now states that his club is “Barcelona B.” But there hasn’t been press release or even a tweet from the Canada Soccer account; though time was taken to tweet out that CONCACAF President Victor Montagliani had met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to discuss the united U.S./Canada/Mexico World Cup bid, and to wish women’s national teamer Allysha Chapman a happy birthday. Now, Tabla has yet to put on a of Cote d’Ivoire jersey, but it’s clear that we as Canadians have decided we’re not going to make the emotional investment in the kid. We’re not going to hope that he rises through the Barca ranks. We’re not going to pray that some of the Barca influence, along with the kid’s unmistakable natural talent, comes back in some way to the Canadian national team. So, on a day when Tabla goes to Barca, we’re all, at best, lukewarm. We’ve already said our goodbyes to the kid — 11 months ago. It’s not fair, because, well, he still is a Canada-eligible player for the moment, but it’s clear we’re not emotionally ready to put much hope in this kid playing for our program again. So, if, somehow, new men’s national-team coach John Herdman can convince this kid to come to a Canadian camp, we’ll all be shocked and awed. But, for now, what could be one of the biggest soccer deals to ever involve a Canadian player is, at best, shrug-worthy news in this country.