Sporting Kansas City made a huge offseason splash this week, signing 25-year-old French midfielder Remi Walter to a three-year MLS contract with an option for 2024. The former France youth international is sure to bolster Sporting’s midfield ahead of a highly anticipated 2021 campaign that should—if everything goes to plan—unfold a bit more smoothly than its predecessor.
Walter has proven pedigree with experience in some of Europe’s top club competitions, but he may not be a household name in MLS circles just yet. With that in mind, here are 10 things to know about the Sporting Kansas City newcomer.
1. Midfield Versatility
Deployed primarily as a No. 8 in the central midfield, Walter can also play as the deep-lying No. 6. The left-footed player predicates his game on precise passing, positional awareness and a tireless work rate.
2. Ligue 1 Veteran
Walter has amassed 74 appearances in Ligue 1, the first division of French soccer and one of the top five domestic leagues in the world. Most of those came with Nice from 2016-2019, as the coastal Mediterranean club consistently competed near the top of the table during Walter’s stint. He also spent half of the 2017-18 campaign with fellow Ligue 1 side Troyes on loan.
3. European Experience
As an important piece of Nice’s midfield, Walter competed in the 2016-17 and 2017-18 editions of the UEFA Europa League, making seven appearances in the competition. He also featured in two UEFA Champions League qualifiers in 2017-18 as Nice fell to Italian side Napoli in a two-legged playoff.
4. Youth International
On the international stage, Walter was a French youth international who participated in a number of high-profile tournaments, namely the 2012 UEFA U-17 Championship in Slovenia and qualifying for the 2017 UEFA U-21 Championship in Poland. As a youth, he played alongside eventual 2018 FIFA World Cup winners Thomas Lemar, Benjamin Pavard and Corentin Tolisso as well as current Manchester City duo Aymeric Laporte and Benjamin Mendy and Manchester United forward Anthony Martial.
5. Friends in High Places
While at Nice, Walter played under multiple big-name head coaches including French soccer legend Patrick Vieira, Lucien Favre and Claude Puel. His laundry list of uber-talented Nice teammates, meanwhile, included the likes of Mario Balotelli, Alassane Plea, Jean Michael Seri and Younes Belhanda.
6. Cool at the Spot
Walter was periodically entrusted with penalty kick duties at Nice as well as his first professional club Nancy. His most notable penalty came in a momentous 1-0 win over French title contenders Lyon in February 2019.
7. Early Days
Walter grew up in Essey-les-Nancy, a commune in northeastern France and a suburb of the city of Nancy. He spent 10 years in Nancy’s academy from 2003-2013, joining at age 8 and breaking into the first team at age 17.
Walter attracted the attention of France’s top clubs by virtue of his standout performances with Nancy in the second division. He became a regular starter in the early stages of the 2013-14 season and spent the next two and a half years as an integral midfield contributor for the side, scoring four goals in all competitions as Nancy narrowly missed out on promotion to the top-flight Ligue 1 in 2014 and 2015.
9. Most Recently
Walter ended his tenure at Nice halfway through the 2019-20 season, transferring to Turkish first division outfit Yeni Malatyaspor in January. He played nine Super Lig matches for the club between March and July before leaving the club this summer.
10. Active on Social
Until Walter arrives in the United States, there’s no better way for supporters to give him a warm Sporting welcome than by showing him some love on social media. Walter can be found on Twitter at @remi_walter and on Instagram at @remi_walter.