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New designated player Ignacio Piatti has the potential to become the face of the Montreal Impact for years to come, but whether or not he's willing remains to be seen.

MONTREAL — The Montreal Impact finally got their man.

Ignacio Piatti, the Impact’s latest designated player signing, took part in his first training session with his new teammates on Thursday at Stade Saputo after a drawn-out courtship that went on for months.

As early as last March—confirming earlier multiple reports at the time—Goal reported that the Impact were close to agreeing on a deal with the Argentine, and he eventually signed in July. But since the Impact gave Piatti permission to remain with his former club San Lorenzo for as long as it stayed alive in the Copa Libertadores, Piatti only arrived this week.

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During Piatti’s introductory press conference on Thursday, head coach and director of player personnel Frank Klopas said he was happy that the days of waiting for the Argentine were finally over. 

“We’re extremely pleased that this day is finally here,” said Klopas. “I know that a lot of people have put a lot of work in order to make this happen, and we’re all excited for Ignacio to be here and to be a part of this organization.”

Last season, the Impact’s biggest weakness was the left side of midfield, and Piatti, who plays predominantly on the left, was supposed to be the last piece of the puzzle — the player who could help transform the Impact into a MLS Cup contender. But the Impact are nowhere near where former sporting director Nick De Santis expected them to be.

The team is last in MLS and significantly weaker and more fragile than last season now that Alessandro Nesta, Davy Arnaud, Hernan Bernardello, Collen Warner and Jeb Brovsky are no longer with the team. Also, senior players like Marco Di Vaio, Patrice Bernier and Matteo Ferrari are not nearly as dominant as they used to be.

Piatti’s signature, therefore, marks the first major signing of a painstaking rebuilding process and Klopas said he plans on making the Argentine the focal point of his team. 

“Long term, he’s someone we can build a strong foundation and a team around,” Klopas said.

However, there is genuine concern over whether or not he is willing to stay in Montreal for the long-term.

In a controversial interview given last Sunday, Piatti said he was hoping to make a good impression with the Impact so that he could pursue other destinations in MLS—Piatti later defended himself, saying that his comments were “taken out of context.”

Klopas also came to the defence of Piatti on Thursday, stressing the Argentine’s desire to play a big role in Montreal for years to come. But when asked about Piatti’s contract, Klopas wasn't willing to disclose many details.

The coach mentioned that Piatti’s deal runs for three and a half years, but refused to comment on the question of whether or not there was an option in the Argentine’s contract which could potentially see him leave the club at an earlier date (such was the case for former Argentine designated player Hernan Bernardello, who caught the club off guard by deciding to leave in July).

Piatti, however, remains a quality attacking player in the prime of his career and Klopas will surely be anxious to get him involved as soon as possible—likely as early as this Saturday when Klopas’ former team, Chicago Fire, come to town.

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