The vice-president and chief sporting director of CF Montreal, Olivier Renard, is aware and grateful for everything that striker Romell Quioto brought to the team, but the separation was inevitable.
Quioto’s contract will end in 2023 and it will not be renewed by the Montreal team. This decision will therefore put an end to a four-year union between the Honduran and the Bleu-blanc-noir.
Quioto had a rough season in 2023, only getting three goals and one assist in 13 games. A hamstring injury caused him to miss four months of play and he was unable to repeat his exploits from 2022, when he had 15 goals and six assists in 30 games.
Seeing that Quioto is slowly getting older, at 32, that his salary demands were somewhat high for the club and that he is prone to some injuries, Renard preferred to take another avenue.
“There were a lot of injuries, but also a lot of good questions to ask ourselves. We had discussions with Romell and he was asking for a salary he thought he deserved after the season he had just had. It was still a risk to extend it for two or three years. Looking back, I think we made the right decision. I have to analyze our budget and we preferred not to present him with an offer,” mentioned Renard.
Quioto is not the only one who is free as air. CF Montreal announced that it had not exercised the option on the contract of goalkeeper James Pantemis, defender Zachary Brault-Guillard, midfielders Ahmed Hamdi and Sean Rea, as well as attackers Jean-Aniel Assi and Jojea Kwizera.
In the case of Pantemis and Brault-Guillard, their place in the lineup was already taken by another teammate, forcing both players to ask for new challenges. After some discussions with the main stakeholders, Renard saw the situation the same way as them.
“You could sense in the last season that Zach was a little unhappy and that’s important for me to listen. Seeing the competition he has on the right side and his desire to go to Europe, we listened to him, said Renard. For James, he was expected to start as the number one goalkeeper and he suffered a serious shoulder injury in the first game. It gave Jonathan (Sirois) the chance. James has done his time in Montreal, he agrees, and he is ready for a new challenge. This will allow him to reach the level he can have. »
If the departures of Kwizera and Hamdi are not surprising, those of Rea and Assi, two Quebecers trained at the club, raise some eyebrows. Aged 19, Assi was loaned at the start of the season to Atlético Ottawa, in the Canadian Premier League. Rea, 21, has had opportunities in MLS this season, but has failed to take off.
“It’s possible we’re giving up too quickly with Sean. He has qualities, but things also happened with (former head coach) Hernan Losada and during training. I wish him good luck and Jean-Aniel too. If they can become professionals elsewhere, that’s also what the Saputo family wants to do, which is to train players,” explained Renard.
CF Montreal has exercised the contract option of goalkeeper Logan Ketterer, defenders Róbert Thorkelsson and Ousman Jabang, as well as striker Ariel Lassiter. He also agreed to a contract extension until 2026 for striker Sunusi Ibrahim. This agreement is accompanied by an option year for the 2027 season.
The 21-year-old Ibrahim has scored three goals and added three assists in MLS this season. He played 1,174 minutes in 25 games, including 11 starts. The forward from Keffi, Nigeria, added three goals and an assist in the Canadian Championship, helping the Bleu-blanc-noir reach the final.
Renard made it a point to say that he is not looking to make Ibrahim Quioto’s immediate replacement, although he would happily accept production equivalent to what the Honduran has shown in the past.
“A lot of people forget he’s only 21 years old. We gave him time to show us his qualities. I think it has been misused at times. I hope he’s the new Quioto, but the pressure won’t be on him. We were his first club when he left Africa at just 18 years old, but he is still very young and we see that he has potential,” he said.
Ibrahim joined CF Montreal on January 12, 2021. He has totaled 13 goals and five assists over the last three seasons in all competitions. He also helped the team win the Canadian Championship in 2021.
Renard indicated that the search for a new head coach is still underway and that there was no real timetable in terms of announcing a hiring. The team still has to talk to candidates, but will likely make a decision before camp begins in January.