Barcelona B’s winter signing from MLS side Montreal Impact Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla made his debut against Alcorcon on Saturday and then trained with Barcelona’s first team on Monday for the first time.
The 18-year-old Canadian winger revealed he has a special mentor, in legendary former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba.
Ballou coincided with Drogba at Montreal Impact and both were born in the same city in the Ivory Coast, Abidjan, and they quickly formed a strong relationship.
Asked by Sport English if Drogba had given him any advice for his move to Barcelona, Ballou revealed the Ivorian legend had phoned him the day before his debut.
“Yes, Didier Drogba is very happy [with my move]. I spoke to him yesterday, he’s very proud.
“He told me to work harder, that it’s just the beginning and to work harder and harder every day to express myself.”
Ballou only found out about Barcelona’s interest in the January transfer window and the move was wrapped up quickly.
“I talked with my agent in January, he called me and he said maybe we’re going to have a deal with Barcelona so I was so happy,” said Ballou.
“I was having some time off because we were out of the playoffs. So I was in Ivory Coast at the time but I went back to Montreal to prepare myself to be ready to play here.”
Ballou has been enjoying Spanish cuisine and is looking forward to getting stuck into learning the language.
“You guys have a lot of good food, I’ve been enjoying it all in the hotel. I am very happy to be here, it’s a great city,” he added.
“Maybe next week I will learn some Spanish. I will have my first class. I am very happy to learn this beautiful language.”