Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Impact Add Swiss International Midfielder Dzemaili as Designated Player

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Impact Add Swiss International Midfielder Dzemaili as Designated Player

Article excerpt

Impact acquire Swiss midfielder Dzemaili

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MONTREAL - New designated player Blerim Dzemaili is eager to get started with the Montreal Impact.

The Swiss international midfielder arrived at Trudeau Airport on Tuesday to begin a new phase of his career in Major League Soccer after more than a decade with top-division clubs in Switzerland, Italy, England and Turkey.

"For me, it is a challenge," said Dzemaili. "Even though I played in top leagues I cannot go easy on the pitch because I saw that the football here is not easy.

"I have to be prepared and concentrated as always."

Officially, the 31-year-old was loaned to the Impact by Bologna FC, but he was acquired by the Italian Serie A club on the understanding that he would move to Montreal after one season. He reportedly is signed through 2017 but is expected to be given a long-term deal.

Dzemaili is to train with his new teammates on Wednesday and may get into his first game Saturday against the visiting Columbus Crew, either as a starter or a substitute, coach Mauro Biello said.

In his career, Dzemaili played in 223 Serie A games with Torino, Parma, Napoli and Bologna. He began his career playing 111 matches for FC Zurich and has also played for Bolton Wanderers and Galatasaray.

He has won two Swiss league titles, two Swiss Cups, two Italian Cups, one Turkish title and one Turkish Cup.

The two-way central midfielder, who tied for the Bologna scoring lead with nine goals and was the team's player of the month in November and January, is known to score goals from distance.

About a dozen fans turned out for his arrival, a far cry from the hundreds of signing, dancing supporters who crowded the airport when superstar Didier Drogba joined the Impact in 2015. Drogba was a scoring machine in his first season in Montreal, although the aging striker ended his stay last season as a bench player. …

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