Atlético Ottawa acquire Samuel Salter from Halifax Wanderers

Atlético Ottawa announced on Thursday that the club has acquired forward Samuel Salter from Halifax Wanderers FC for an undisclosed fee, in the first intra-league player sale in Canadian Premier League history. The Wanderers also confirmed that the club will retain a percentage of future sell-on fees.

Ottawa have signed Salter to a two-year contract, with an option to extend to 2025.

Salter, a 22-year-old striker from Laval, Que., played for the Wanderers in 2021 and 2022, playing 51 games and scoring 15 goals for the club. Last season was a breakout campaign for him, as he finished fourth in league scoring with 11 — seven more than any other Halifax player, and just a hair under half of the team’s 24 regular season goals.

“We’re delighted to have Samuel join our team,” said Ottawa head coach Carlos González. “He’s a versatile forward who has a fantastic work ethic and goal-scoring instinct, added to his extensive experience in the Canadian Premier League with a lot of potential to still grow. We’re looking forward to working with him and seeing him develop even further.”

The young centre-forward was the focal point of Halifax’s attack for much of 2022, playing in all but one of the club’s league matches. The height of his campaign, though, was the equalizer he scored in the Canadian Championship quarter-final against MLS side Toronto FC in a tense, dramatic cup tie at the Wanderers Grounds.

Salter has scored three times against Atlético Ottawa in his CPL career, including twice last season.

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“This off-season, we’ve done a thorough evaluation of our squad as we shape it for this new Wanderers era under Patrice Gheisar,” Halifax sporting director Matt Fegan said. “We’ve purposely strengthened numerous positions to suit the system and style we intend to play to become a team that can compete for playoffs. Once it became clear we had strength and depth in Sam’s preferred position, we found a suitable fit for his career, and we’ve ensured the club recouped our investment in him, now and in the future. We thank Sam for his contribution and wish him all the best.”

Salter first signed for the Nova Scotian club in early 2021 after impressing with AS Blainville in the semi-pro Première ligue de soccer du Québec, and he briefly played NCAA Div. I soccer with California State University Northridge in 2019. Salter also spent time as a youth player in the CF Montréal (then Montréal Impact) academy, as well as a stint in France with ASPTT Dijon.

“This is an exciting day for Atlético Ottawa and for the Canadian Premier League as a whole,” said Atlético Ottawa CEO Fernando López. “It’s great to see Canadian clubs engaging in transfers as the value of players who have proven their abilities in this league increases. We’re thrilled to welcome Samuel to the club and look forward to seeing him in action.”

Salter is the latest forward to join Ottawa’s new-look attack, alongside CF Montréal loanee Jean-Aniel Assi, as the 2022 regular season champions reinforce their squad after the departures of Ballou Tabla and Brian Wright.

This move is, as mentioned, the first time a player under contract has been sold by one CPL club to another. Last season, York United and Pacific FC swapped Cédric Toussaint and Matthew Baldisimo in a move that saw the latter loaned to the Nine Stripes, but Salter’s transfer to Ottawa is the first of its kind in the league.