Vancouver Whitecaps forward Theo Bair (14) fights for control of the ball with Montreal Impact defender Luis Binks (5) during second half MLS soccer action in Vancouver, B.C., Wednesday, September, 16, 2020. The Impact have extended defender Binks’ loan from Italy’s Bologna through December 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Vancouver Whitecaps forward Theo Bair (14) fights for control of the ball with Montreal Impact defender Luis Binks (5) during second half MLS soccer action in Vancouver, B.C., Wednesday, September, 16, 2020. The Impact have extended defender Binks’ loan from Italy’s Bologna through December 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Montreal Impact extend Luis Binks’ loan agreement with Bologna through 2021

Binks became a fixture at centre back this season

Luis Binks has done a lot of learning in his first Major League Soccer season — though a lot of the lessons had nothing to do with soccer.

The English defender joined the Montreal Impact on loan from the Tottenham Hotspur in February. Coming to Canada marked Binks’ first move away from home.

“I probably didn’t realize how much growing up I’d have to do,” the 19-year-old said on a video call Wednesday.

“When I first came in, I thought my mom and dad would be coming out every month, family, girlfriend, whatever. But that hasn’t happened (because of COVID-19), so I’ve had to grow up, learn to do all the little things like cook, wash. So I’ve learned a lot on the pitch but I’ve learned just as much off it.”

Binks joined Tottenham’s youth academy at age six, and in August, he was transferred to Bologna. Impact owner Joey Saputo has a stake in the Italian club.

Following the transfer, Binks remained in Montreal on loan. The deal was extended through December 2021 on Tuesday.

Spending another year in MLS will be a good opportunity to continue developing, Binks said.

“I think the only way I can learn is by playing games against good opposition and I think it’s a good move for me to come back,” he said.

Binks has become a fixture at centre back this season, playing 1,762 minutes across 21 games.

“Despite his young age and his little experience at the professional level, Luis played an excellent first season with us, which got him a transfer to Bologna,” Impact sporting director Olivier Renard said in a statement. “He showed what he can bring to this group and we are happy to know he will keep progressing in our club for another year.”

The young defender admits he has some growing and learning to do on the field, however.

Binks received eight yellow cards during the regular season, resulting in a pair of suspensions.

“That’s definitely something I need to cut down on because I don’t want to keep missing games through suspension because it’s not right and it’s not good,” he said. “So next year, and even in the next few games, hopefully that’s something I can put right.”

There’s still time for the teen to showcase his growth this year.

Though the Impact (8-13-2) have weathered a difficult stretch marked with adversity, the club clinched a playoff spot Sunday with a 3-2 come-from-behind win over D.C. United.

Montreal will face the New England Revolution on Nov. 20 to open their playoff run.

The positive result against D.C. will help fuel the club going forward, Binks said.

“I think that win boosted everyone,” he said. “It was definitely a win that we needed, not just to make the playoffs but just for our confidence as well.”

Once the playoffs are over, Binks is looking forward to “switching off from football for a little bit” and spending some time with his loved ones back in England.

It’s been an intense season for the young defender, and one he’s sure to remember for many years to come.

“I don’t think I’ve properly had time to digest it yet, with all the travelling,” he said. “But I think when I go back home at the end of the year and sit down, I think then I’ll look at what I’ve done well, what I’ve done bad and maybe that’s the time that I’ll look back and think it’s not been a bad year for me.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 11, 2020.

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