Atlético Ottawa signs Canadian international Ballou Tabla

Atlético Ottawa made perhaps its biggest off-season splash yet on Tuesday, announcing that the club has signed Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla to a three-year contract.

The 22-year-old winger has been one of the most highly-touted youngsters in Canada for several years now, having impressed at both the MLS and international levels. Tabla’s career began in the CF Montréal (then Montréal Impact) academy, but he broke into the first team in 2017, becoming the youngest player in club history to debut in MLS (just a few weeks before his 18th birthday).

Tabla’s success in Montréal quickly caught the eye of clubs around the world, and in early 2018 he signed a deal with FC Barcelona B. He played 30 matches in Spain for the Barça reserve squad, but in 2019 he returned to MLS with Montréal.

RELATED: CPL off-season roster tracker: Who’s in and who’s out for 2022?

In total, Tabla has made 39 appearances for Montréal, scoring six goals for the club. He was a major part of helping his side win the 2021 Canadian Championship, coming on as a substitute at Wanderers Grounds against HFX Wanderers FC and scoring two late goals to lift Montréal past the CPL outfit in the quarter-final.

Born in Ivory Coast but raised in Québec, Tabla has represented Canada internationally since the U-15 level. He has two appearances for the senior men’s national team, which came in the 2018 Concacaf Nations League, and he was also a key part of the U-23 side for Olympic Qualifying in early 2021.

“The last few years have been tough for me,” Tabla said in a statement. “I had to fight through injuries what seemed every six months or so. I feel good now, I’m healthy, and I’m happy to be in Ottawa.”

Tabla is primarily a left winger, offering plenty of explosiveness and quality to a front line. The young attacker will bring high-level experience and dynamism to Atlético Ottawa as they look to improve their squad significantly in 2022.

“I like to express myself on the field,” Tabla added. “I like to dribble, I like to take up one v one situations, (and) I like to set up my teammates.”

Fernando López, CEO of Atlético Ottawa, commented: “We are thrilled to welcome Ballou to our club. We saw that he loves to get on the ball, attack the opposition and create opportunities. We expect him to be one of the most dangerous attackers in the league and cannot wait to see him – and our club – succeed.”

With this addition, the club has 17 players confirmed for its 2022 roster, including nine newcomers. López also confirmed recently that a new head coach has been selected and will be unveiled very soon. The club also stated in their announcement that the squad will convene for pre-season in late February, with several additions on loan likely to join the group soon.

Ottawa’s third CPL season will kick off on Saturday, April 9 when they host Cavalry FC at TD Place (3 pm ET, on OneSoccer).