In a flurry of New York Red Bulls transfer news emerging on Sunday morning, the club’s winter squad plans became much more clear.
First was the news out of Poland that the Red Bulls had submitted an official bid for Legia Warsaw winger Luquinhas. Newonce Sport journalist Dominik Piechota stated early Sunday that New York had submitted a €2.5-3 million bid to sign the Brazilian winger. This report was later solidified by Poland-based Spanish language reporter Eugenio Gonzalez Aguilera, stating the final step was the approval of the financially-struggling club’s president.
Luquinhas (full name Lucas Lima Linhares) has spent two and a half seasons in Poland, with 9 goals in 74 senior appearances, including UEFA Champions League qualification and Europa League action. Originally from Ceilândia, a suburb of Brazil’s capital city of Brasilia, Luquinhas began his professional career outside of the top Brazilian divisions to instead join Portuguese lower league side Vilafranquense as an 18-year-old.
After two standout years at Vilafranquense, Luquinhas caught the attention of local giants Benfica, who signed the winger to their reserve team in 2016. After a single scoreless season with Benfica B, the winger dropped back down to the second division with Aves before a successful 10-goal loan back to the friendly confines of Vilafranquense. The Brazilian’s re-emergence in Portugal earned him a move to Polish giants Legia as a 22-year-old in the summer of 2019, and he has remained a regular at the Warsaw club ever since, winning league titles in 2020 and 2021.
The 25-year-old has been deployed mostly as an inverted right-footed winger on the left side of Legia’s formation. The signing of Luquinhas would imply either a shift by New York manager Gerhard Struber towards a winger-heavy formation such as the 4-2-2-2 used for stretches of last year, or an upgrade in personnel (along with December signing Lewis Morgan) for the 5-2-3/3-6-1 formation at the end of last season which typically used Cristian Cásseres and Caden Clark or Wiki Carmona as wide attackers behind the striker.
The news didn’t end there for the Red Bulls on Sunday. Chris Smith of 90min Football reported on Sunday afternoon that New York had finally reached a final agreement for English defender Tom Edwards to return for a second season on loan from Stoke City. Though other MLS teams had reportedly enquired about the utility man’s availability following his inability to make the Stoke first team this winter due to injury, it is reported that Edwards would only return to America to play for the Red Bulls.
The signing of Edwards would cause sighs of relief to ring across the New York fanbase following the exit of right back Kyle Duncan to Belgium this winter and the news earlier this week that center back Andres Reyes would miss a large chunk of the season with a foot injury. Described as a “machine” by Gerhard Struber last season, Edwards’ ability to adapt his sturdy, intelligent game to both fullback and center back (as well as defensive midfield) made him a key glue figure for a Red Bulls team hobbled by injury for much of 2021.
The final bit of news in Harrison on Sunday was of the more anticlimactic variety, as the long-hinted return of Caden Clark to New York took more shape. It was reported by Philipp Hinze of Sky Sports Germany that New York was deep in the process of returning Clark, who was officially sold to RB Leipzig last summer but has been deemed unready for the Bundesliga after his second season with New York. According to OaM reporter Eric Friedlander, Red Bulls sporting executives Kevin Thelwell and Denis Hamlett face the obstacle of reaching the top of the MLS allocation order, as Clark is now officially an ex-MLS player returning to the league.
But after the hot stove ran cold for most of January, New York’s transfer plans are now coming into focus. With a month remaining before the team’s season opener against San Jose, the club appears primed to make its final additions as February nears and European clubs see their options limited.