The Montreal Impact have signed striker Orji Okwonkwo on loan from Bologna in Serie A. He is the necessary foil to the brilliant but over-relied-upon Ignacio Piatti.
After a fairly dismal year at the striker position for the Montreal Impact last season, 2019 may be looking up. Orji Okwonkwo’s arrival signals another attempt by the Impact to find a goal scorer who gives consistent minutes and can produce when given the opportunity.
Okwonkwo will join the Impact from Bologna in Serie A on a season-long loan. The 21-year-old striker has been in Italy since 2016 after he impressed in Nigeria’s U-17 World Cup win in 2015. Like most younger players loaned to Major League Soccer clubs, Okwonkwo has not been able to break into the first team with a regular role. He made nine appearances in all competitions for Bologna in the 2018-19 campaign and has scored three goals in 27 Serie A appearances, 23 of which were from off the bench with the club.
His most recent loan was to Brescia in Serie B during the second half of last season where he scored one goal in 13 league appearances for the second division side.
Bologna has to be happy that their young striker will be playing alongside two of MLS’ best playmakers in Ignacio Piatti and Maxi Urruti. There will be plenty of chances for him to score and he will get his chance to show his parent club he has what it takes to get back into Serie A action.
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For the Impact, they will be hoping Okwonkwo can give them goal-scoring support at the striker position. Last year, Piatti led the way with 16 goals and their main striker, Matteo Mancosu, was only able to yield three goals. As a result, Piatti became the sole player to carry the Impact offensively. Even though Piatti turned in a remarkable performance, the Quebec club cannot afford to do the same this year.
Okwonkwo will no doubt be wanting to get minutes and score goals. He has not played a whole lot for Bologna which is a positive circumstance for the Impact as he should not be too fatigued for the MLS season to come.
The Impact should be in the running again for a spot in the MLS playoffs and one has to wonder if they would have qualified last season if they had a consistent goal-scorer alongside Piatti. As a result, this year’s success will rely heavily upon how the Impact can get goals from their striker.
For Okwonkwo this is a massive opportunity; for the Montreal Impact, they may have found the reliable striker they needed last certain. This could well be a good deal all-round.