Former Montreal Impact winger Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla made his Barcelona B debut over the weekend, earning praise from an Ivorian legend.
The attacker came on as a second half substitute in a 1-0 loss to Alcorcon. He played on the right wing of Barca B’s 4-3-3 formation and he trained with the senior squad alongside the likes of Lionel Messi for the first time on Monday morning.
Tabla came to Spain in part because of advice received from Ivory Coast legend and former Montreal Impact teammate Didier Drogba.
“Didier Drogba is very happy [with me coming to Barcelona],” Ballou said after his debut on Saturday. “I spoke to him [on Friday], he’s very proud. He tells me to work harder, that it’s just the beginning and to work harder and harder every day to express myself.”
The Canadian youth international was born Abidjan, Ivory Coast, the same city as Drogba, before he moved to Canada as a child.
He is settling in well with his new club after a move that seemingly appeared out of nowhere. He’s still adjusting to life in a new country with a new language, but the talent at Barcelona and throughout the Spanish second division has helped his game adjust as quickly as possible.
“Luckily it’s easy to play with good players,” he said. “All around me I have really good players at a high level. So that makes it easy for me to get the ball, to dribble and to try to link up with my teammates.”
“I am very happy. I was happy to get my first minutes with the team and I hope I can now get more minutes in the games coming up in the future.”