Right-back Alistair Johnston has highlighted CF Montreal's willingness to 'move mountains' as key to his transfer from Nashville SC.
Johnston was among the best right-backs in MLS last season across his 28 appearances and was rewarded with his first 18 senior caps for the Canadian national team.
Following a couple of weeks of speculation, Johnston completed a move back to his homeland, with Montreal paying $1m of General Allocation Money (GAM) for his services. Nashville also retain a 10% sell-on clause starting at $1m if the defender is transferred again in the future.
Johnston has been given a healthy pay rise following his move to Montreal, but he insists it was the feeling of being wanted that made the move so attractive.
“The money’s as much about that as it is anything else,” Johnston said during a video conference (via the Calgary Herald). “You want to be somewhere where you feel like you’re wanted. And I always felt wanted in Nashville. It just felt like Montreal was willing to move mountains — and move anything possible — to come get me. And that was something that really stuck out for me and got me excited about this potential move.”
Still just 23, a lot has changed for Johnston over the last 12 months, going from a relative rookie to the starting right-back for one of the strongest Canadian teams in recent memory.
But as performance levels increase, so does pressure. For Johnston, that's no bad thing.
“When I was in Nashville, if I made a mistake, people would say ‘he’s still a rookie, he’s still one of the young guys just out of college,’ ” he said. “Now I’m a Canadian international. They paid a big transfer fee to get me, so the pressure is going to come. But, as a football player, you want that pressure."
Johnston continued: “I’m looking forward to having a bigger role. I know it’s a young team compared to the national team. In Nashville, I was the youngest starter, but I look at the backline here and I’m potentially one of the old guys (and) I can’t even grow a beard yet.”
CF Montreal kick off their 2022 MLS season away at Orlando City on Sunday, February 27.