The New York Red Bulls have made two signings in the past 48 hours. First, after weeks of rumors, the team confirmed the signing of Brazilian midfielder Luquinhas. Now earlier today it was announced Tom Edwards will be back in Harrison for 2022 on another loan deal.
These two signings are probably the biggest of the soon-to-be-over offseason. The two might be matched only by the permanent signing of goalkeeper Carlos Coronel, but realistically the team needed to keep him. In the case of these two “new” names, they represent the Bulls taking the final but needed steps ahead of the 2022 Major League Soccer season.
First on Edwards; it’s great to see him back from Stoke City. He’s going to get far more playing time in Harrison than he would at a mid-table EFL Championship club. His 25 starts last year helped the team keep eight clean sheets. Even still, most of those saw him playing out of his depth. The early season injury to Aaron Long forced the right back into center, where he struggled. His lack of height was obstacle and it took weeks for a more permeant formation to come along.
Still, he proved his worth during that summer slump in 2021. Coming into this season, with Gerhard Struber building out a healthy squad, Edwards can finally take his place in full force. Plus with the departure of Kyle Duncan, right-back is far less contested for him to call his own.
“We are thrilled to bring Tom back to New York,” said Head of Sport Kevin Thelwell in the team’s announcement. “Bringing him back was a priority of ours at the beginning of the offseason because of the quality he has both on and off the field.”
The loan RBNY signed with Stoke is until December of this year. This means he’ll be back in England for the second half of Stoke’s 2022-23 season. With no option to buy Edwards at the end of the deal, and reports that Edwards still wants to be a main player at the EPL side, this is a double edged sword. Edwards is going to have to play at his best to show he deserves to be a regular back home. New York can hopefully benefit from that, especially on the right wing.
The second signing is arguably the most “New York Red Bulls” signing the team could have made. Locking down Luquinhas (real name Lucas Lima Linhares) for three years as a Designated Player is, overall, a solid move. While the transfer fee wasn’t officially reported sources claim it was somewhere around three million Euros. If true, the transfer fee makes him one of the three most expensive signings in New York Red Bulls history.
“We are delighted to add Luquinhas to our senior roster,” said Thelwell in today’s announcement. “We made it a priority to add a dynamic offensive player this offseason and he fits the bill. His extensive experience, especially at the Champions League level, will be beneficial to our young roster.”
The 25-year old resume includes stops in the lower division of professional Portuguese soccer and, most recently, a two-and-a-half season stay at Polish side Legia Warsaw. His stats there aren’t eye-popping though. Through 110 matches played he only scored 12 goals and assisted on 18 other goals.
Struber might be considering using Luquinhas as an inverted winger. He can play behind the coach’s typical diamond formation. Patryk Klimala is seemingly going to be a single striker since it would be backwards to assume Omar Sowe or Tom Barlow are going to fully replace Fabio. If that’s the case it makes sense since Luquinhas doesn’t fully feel like he fits into that mold especially for three million.
He’s best as a defensive midfielder and earning 2020-21 Ekstraklasa Midfielder of the Season is proof enough of that. He’s going to be stretched across the field while players like Caden Clark or the newly acquired Lewis Morgan stay up-top more.
It will be interesting to see if Luquinhas matches his reported price tag. New York hasn’t been known for signing flashy DP players in some time and this continues that trend. Right now Klimala has been serving his role well enough but the Brazilian midfielder hasn’t really been a building block wherever he’s been.
Essentially, this move was needed but it isn’t a slam dunk. New York needed another midfielder but it’s curious this is how the team spent so much money, plus a DP spot.
Update: Those two will also be joined by midfielder Serge Ngoma. The teenager was signed to a Homegrown Contract today after spending time with New York Red Bulls II the past two seasons.
Overall, it has not been a bad week to be a New York Red Bulls fan. The preseason is finishing up in California, the roster is finalized, and the team just announced it’s new kit for this season (dubbed the “1Ritmo” kit). While the latter’s design has been debated, overall it seems as though most fans don’t hate it. It’s red, subtle, and inoffensive. Kind of like what this team might be in 2022. It’s not going to set the world on fire, nor was it intended to. But it can get the job done and might be worth the money as the season goes on.
The regular season begins in just over a week. The Red Bulls will stay on the west coast as they take on the San Jose Earthquakes on February 26. Kickoff is scheduled for 3 PM local time (6 PM Eastern).