Montreal Impact prospect Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla flattered by Premier League links

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The 17-year-old Canadian winger is reportedly being eyed by Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal.

Montreal Impact youngster Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla has admitted to Le Journal de Montreal that he is flattered by reports linking him with a move to the Premier League.

Tabla, who was born in the Ivory Coast but moved to Canada with his family as a child, joined the Impact at the age of 14 and has since established himself as one of the top prospects in North America.

The skilful winger was named the Canadian Under-17 Player of the Year in 2014 at the age of just 15 and signed a deal with Montreal’s USL-based reserve team, FC Montreal, last November after starring for the club’s Under-18s.

Now aged 17, he has already been training with the first-team regularly alongside the likes of Didier Drogba and was part of the Canadian Under-20 side that beat England 2-1 in Doncaster in March.

Scouts from Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal are said to have been impressed by his display on the day and ESPN FC reported last month that all three clubs are now keeping close tabs on his progress.

Nonetheless, while Tabla admits that it is big honour to be linked with such famous clubs, he is keeping grounded in the face of speculation.

“It’s big that they have interest in him,” the teenager told Le Journal de Montreal. “I'm happy, but I’m staying focused on my task. I must not say that I have arrived just because there are clubs looking at me."

FC Montreal head coach Philippe Eullaffroy, who saw Tabla score on his USL debut last month in a 2-1 loss to Toronto FC II, also added that the club have been aware of interest in their star prospect’s signature for some time now.

"It is not a surprise because we’ve known for a little bit,” he told Le Journal de Montreal. "The club trains them to play with the first-team, but there are parameters you cannot control. Whatever option is chosen, it will be good for him. "

ESPN FC’s report claimed that City, Chelsea and Arsenal have all enquired about the possibility of bringing Tabla over to England in the near future for a trial in order to assess his potential first hand, but it remains to be seen whether work permit issues would prevent him from making a permanent move should the chance arise.

If all three clubs did approach the Impact with concrete offers, though, then there is a good chance that his relationship with former Stamford Bridge hero Drogba could influence his decision.

"Didier has been my idol since I was four years old, it’s crazy,” Tabla told Le Journal de Montreal. "The first time I trained with the pros and with Didier, I cried, I had tears in my eyes.

"Drogba could advise me. I'm a young player and I miss little things that I need to make me a complete player.”

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