MONTREAL — New designated player Blerim Dzemaili is eager to get started with the Montreal Impact.

The Swiss international midfielder arrived at Trudeau Airport on Tuesday to begin a new phase of his career in Major League Soccer after more than a decade with top-division clubs in Switzerland, Italy, England and Turkey.

"For me, it is a challenge," said Dzemaili. "Even though I played in top leagues I cannot go easy on the pitch because I saw that the football here is not easy.

"I have to be prepared and concentrated as always."

Officially, the 31-year-old was loaned to the Impact by Bologna FC, but he was acquired by the Italian Serie A club on the understanding that he would move to Montreal after one season. He reportedly is signed through 2017 but is expected to be given a long-term deal.

Dzemaili is to train with his new teammates on Wednesday and may get into his first game Saturday against the visiting Columbus Crew, either as a starter or a substitute, coach Mauro Biello said.

In his career, Dzemaili played in 223 Serie A games with Torino, Parma, Napoli and Bologna. He began his career playing 111 matches for FC Zurich and has also played for Bolton Wanderers and Galatasaray.

He has won two Swiss league titles, two Swiss Cups, two Italian Cups, one Turkish title and one Turkish Cup.

The two-way central midfielder, who tied for the Bologna scoring lead with nine goals and was the team's player of the month in November and January, is known to score goals from distance.

About a dozen fans turned out for his arrival, a far cry from the hundreds of signing, dancing supporters who crowded the airport when superstar Didier Drogba joined the Impact in 2015. Drogba was a scoring machine in his first season in Montreal, although the aging striker ended his stay last season as a bench player.

Dzemaili's only promise is to do his best.

"I wanted this challenge and I can't wait to meet my teammates and all the staff," he said. "I can't wait to play."

His only acquaintance on the team is Italian midfielder Marco Donadel, a former teammate with Napoli. But he has been watching Montreal's games, including their run to the Eastern Conference final last fall and their slow (2-3-4) start to the current campaign.

"I saw the last game (a 2-1 road win over D.C. United)," he said. "I think the team did good.

"Of course we don't have the points that everyone expected but the season is long and I think we can do very well."

Dzemaili should add skill and depth to a squad in need of both, depending on how long it takes to adapt to a new team, city and league. He may also have to deal with fatigue from having no break between seasons, although Bologna left him out of its last match to ensure he was fit for his arrival in Montreal.

He was let go earlier than anticipated because Bologna had collected enough points to ensure it will not be relegated from Serie A.

Dzemaili is the second Bologna player to join the Impact in as many years after forward Matteo Mancosu. Impact president Joey Saputo is also part owner and chairman of Bologna and encourages exchanges between the clubs.

One question mark about the move involves Dzemaili's continued role on the Swiss national squad. He has six goals in 56 games for Switzerland, including a goal against France at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, and he started all four matches at the 2016 European Championship.

"I spoke with the national team coach (Vladimir Petkovic) and he said his only doubt is jet lag," said Dzemaili. "We have to find out about that."

The native of Tetovo, Macedonia, who is of Albanian descent, moved with his family to Switzerland when he was four.