MONTREAL — Joey Saputo has no doubt about it — Ignacio Piatti will be back with the Montreal Impact for the upcoming 2017 MLS season.
Several reports coming out of Argentina over the holidays have linked the former San Lorenzo midfielder to a move back to the Argentine top flight. Storied Buenos Aires outfit Boca Juniors, who have money to spend following a reported $11 million transfer of star forward Carlos Tevez to Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua, have been cited as one of the teams most interested.
But in a press conference Monday to announce the re-signing of team captain Patrice Bernier, the Impact president gave his assurance Piatti wants to return to Montreal and that the club has no intention of selling its most valuable player.
“Before Nacho left (for vacation) he made it very very clear to us — he made it very clear to me — that this is where he wants to be,” Saputo told assembled media at the club’s training center. “I know that during the holidays rumors came out that clubs in Argentina were looking for him and that he may not be back. The chances that Nacho's back, I’d say they’re 100 percent.
“We always get inquires, but to say that we turned down an offer? I wouldn’t say that we turned down an offer.”
Piatti, who turns 32 next month, is coming off his most productive season in MLS since his arrival from San Lorenzo midway through the 2014 campaign. He scored 17 goals in the regular season and four more during the playoffs, helping the Impact reach the Eastern Conference finals. The performance got the attacker fifth place in the 2016 MLS MVP balloting. Piatti was also instrumental in the team’s run to the CONCACAF Champions League Final in 2015.
With 18 months left on his current deal, Saputo didn’t rule out the possibility of offering Piatti an extension at some point this year.