Rising Canadian star Kone joins English club Watford from Montreal

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Ismael Kone is getting his first big move after the World Cup.

The Canadian international midfielder, 20, sealed a transfer from CF Montreal to Watford, the English Championship club announced Monday. Kone, who inked a four-and-a-half-year contract with the Hornets, will officially link up with his new team on Jan. 1.

Montreal will net a club-record fee from the deal, reports transfer insider Fabrizio Romano. The MLS team's previous record sale is the reported $6 million that Dutch side AZ Alkmaar paid to acquire Djordje Mihailovic. That move will also be made official in January.

"I want to thank (Montreal) for everything it has done for me," Kone said in a statement. "I grew as a player, but also off the field. I had a lot to learn, but the people here helped me develop. I'm grateful because I had the opportunity to begin my career at home."

Kone also had offers from Italian, German, and Dutch clubs, according to Romano. The Canadian nearly joined Sheffield United this past summer, too.

The plan for Kone involves a move to Udinese in Serie A in the near future, Romano adds. Watford owner Gino Pozzo's father, Giampaolo, owns the Italian club. The two teams have benefited from a symbiotic transfer relationship over the years, with numerous players switching between the Pozzo-owned entities.

Kone enjoyed a meteoric rise in 2022.

He developed into a key contributor for Montreal in his first MLS campaign, making 26 regular-season appearances and scoring once in the playoffs. He debuted for Canada in March and featured in all three matches for John Herdman's team at the World Cup in Qatar.

Kone's move comes days after fellow Canadian international Alistair Johnston completed a transfer of his own from Montreal, joining reigning Scottish champions Celtic.

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Rising Canadian star Kone joins English club Watford from Montreal
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