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French left-back joins New York Red Bulls on trial

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His name is Louis Nganioni, and he’s shortly going to be a former Lyon player.

France v USA - International Friendly Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

The New York Red Bulls tend to keep their transfer market wheelings and dealings as quiet as they can. News inevitably slips out, sometimes aided by a whisper or two from within the club itself, but for the most part RBNY prefers to say nothing official about additions or subtractions to the roster until a deal is sufficiently advanced that it can be described as “completed” in a press release. That is the club’s right, of course.

It is therefore notable when RBNY chooses to depart from its informal policy of silence on the subject of its transfer market adventures. As such, the team’s fans would be well advised to take notice of the Red Bulls’ decision to issue an official statement about Louis Nganioni: a 22-year-old left back (it says here) who has joined RBNY on trial.

Nganioni is no stranger to the MLS rumor mill. As quickly spotted by the Red Bulls’ crack team of transfer-story sleuths, he was reportedly on NYCFC’s radar during the last winter transfer window.

And he was allegedly on Montreal’s watch-list around the same time.

No great surprise that Nganioni should be popping back up on the MLS rumor mill for the summer transfer jamboree. He is a player who looks to be urgently in need of a new club.

It is thought his contract with Ligue 1 heavyweight expires on June 30. Further, it would appear his career has stalled somewhat in the last season, which soccerway.com suggests he’s spent mostly parked with Lyon’s reserves. Nganioni has never made a competitive appearance for the first team of the club he grew up with, but he did get playing time via a series of loans: first in Eredivisie with Utrecht in the 2015-16 season; subsquently in Ligue 2 with Brest in 2016-17. He was also a France youth team regular from the U-16 to U-20 levels.

But he looks in need of a change of scenery and a shot at first-team minutes, so not at all a shock that he’s on the rumor mill again this summer.

What is a little more surprising, perhaps, is the Red Bulls want it to be known that Nganioni is on trial with them. There is a reason for that, of course, and it seems fair to assume the reason isn’t a desire to be fully transparent about transfer ambitions - few clubs are, and the Red Bulls are, if anything, traditionally on the quieter end of the transfer-chattiness spectrum.

The left-back position does look a little light at RBNY at the moment. Kemar Lawrence is the stand-out starter; Connor Lade is the presumptive back-up: beyond that, the team is reduced is to considering playing starters out of position, promoting a prospect from the reserve team, or finding some exotic tactical plan to compensate for the absence of a left back. So an addition to the depth chart for that role is certainly in order.

RBNY is expected to sign emerging Guatemala international Allen Yanes to a II-team contract once his present commitment to Antigua GFC’s season is over. Given the the Red Bulls’ newfound freedom to loan up and down from the reserves apparently at will (the club spent much of the first couple months of this season juggling personnel between its first and second team rosters to work around an over-supply of international players), Yanes might reasonably have been thought to be the required mid-season boost to the left-back position.

But the arrival of Nganioni on trial suggests the Red Bulls aren’t completely satisfied that they are fully covered at left back - especially if a summer suitor comes calling for Kemar Lawrence (currently presumed to be leaving RBNY at the end of this season, at the latest). So it would appear that a summer search for full back cover is underway in Harrison.