Canadian international Hanson Boakai appears ready to take a big step forward in his professional soccer career. After an offseason riddled with rumours about where the 19-year-old midfielder might end up next, some concrete news has risen above the conjecture.
Waking the Red can confirm that Boakai is in talks with Croatian side Hajduk Split, which was rumoured early last week. Nothing is official yet as negotiations continue, but an announcement on the subject could be made soon.
Boakai is not currently on trial with the club, as others have suggested, and there was no indication whether signing would mean playing for the Hajduk B side or the big club. All that is currently known is that talks are ongoing.
Formerly of FC Edmonton, Boakai is currently out of contract and as a result has been linked to several clubs throughout the offseason. Toronto FC were interested in the player, with some early reports that they had gone further, but signing him now would be incredibly unlikely.
The only club to go public about the offer they have made him was his former side, FC Edmonton, per Steven Sandor of the11.ca. Boakai has been with the senior FC Edmonton side since 2013, and holds the record for being both the youngest player to ever sign a NASL contract and the youngest player to ever play in NASL.
Boakai played in 37 matches in all competitions in his time with FC Edmonton, scoring 2 goals. However, he has struggled to become a consistent starter under Colin Miller despite his large amount of potential. As a result it is not incredibly surprising that he is looking for a new club.
Where Boakai has had his most success of late has been internationally for Canada, where he has been dominant at many age groups. He scored for Canada at U-20 World Cup qualifiers, and has even been called up by Benito Floro to the senior men's national team.
Part of Boakai's limited minutes in Edmonton was behavioural issues that included breaking team rules, and he was once suspended by the club for a game as a result. The hope is that a move to Europe will help Boakai to "grow up" and develop his professionalism both on and off the field.
Split, Croatia is certainly not a bad place to accomplish these goals. Hajduk is well known as both a historically competitive club on the European continent while also being a developer of young talent. The club has a strong list of alumni including West Ham coach Slavan Bilic, Hammers striker Nikica Jelavic and Inter Milan midfielder Ivan Perisic.
Hajduk Split currently sits in third place in the Prva HNL, the top division of soccer in Croatia. The last time they won the league was 2005, but the club has managed to make an annual appearance in the Europa League.
Making a move like this would certainly put Boakai on the radar to feature more consistently for the senior men's national team. While he has been called up he has yet to make his debut, but would give Canada a strong option on the wings.