The Imps have added the ninth new face to their ranks this afternoon with the long-awaited capture of former Celtic prospect Theo Archibald.
The 22-year-old has been linked with the club since lockdown began in March, but only today has he penned a deal which confirms the Scotland Under 21 international will be playing for the Imps next season.
Theo started his career with Celtic, making numerous appearances for their youth setup and featured in the UEFA Youth League before heading south to join Brentford in 2017. He made three appearances early into his spell with The Bees, impressing so much that he was called up to make his Scotland Under 21 debut, coming on as a substitute against Holland and helping them to a 2-1 win.
His first outing for City won’t be his first at Sincil Bank either; he impressed me as we beat Forest Green 2-1 a couple of years ago, making 20 appearances in total for Mark Cooper’s men during a loan spell.
He left Brentford in the following summer, joining Sol Campbell’s Macclesfield Town, where he featured 33 times, scoring six goals in the process. He chose not to remain at Macclesfield at the end of last season as their troubles grew and has been a free agent since March, despite the ongoing links to us.
“There’s been an extended wait with everything that’s going on in the world but I’m absolutely delighted to be here now.” Theo said. “It’s exciting, there’s a lot of young players in the squad. When I spoke to the gaffer and when I spoke to Jez, there was a plan for me. It felt like they wanted me and had a plan for me and for a young player that’s exactly what you want.
“It’s a great club to be at and it always felt right, it’s been on my mind, I hoped to become an Imp one day. Here I finally am and I’m looking forward to getting going.”
Michael Appleton is looking forward to working closely with the young Scotsman, whom he feels brings something different to the current group.
“Theo is going to give us balance in the wide areas, with him being left footed,” he said. “He’s someone who is very direct and is always looking to go past people.”
I know some fans will be wondering how a young man starts at Celtic and quickly finds himself at Macclesfield. If you delve a little into Archibald’s past, you can understand how he has suffered. He was highly-rated at Celtic but opted to move to Brentford after being impressed by their Director of Football, Robert Rowan. Rowan is described as Archibald’s mentor, but he passed away in November 2018, just a week or so after Archibald impressed at Sincil Bank for Forest Green Rovers. It was after this tragic event that he understandably lost form.
Archibald did make a few appearances in the Championship for Brentford but also courted controversy as he struggled to settle. He was sent home from an away trip for ordering room service when it strictly prohibited and was later released. In an interview with the Daily Record, Archibald admitted he lost his way a bit after coming down south.
“I know that I could have been a bit more grown-up at Brentford. Just in terms of the way I handled myself when things weren’t going well. Probably, the reason why it didn’t work out was partly to do with me and partly to do with the club. I stopped training with the first team about six months in.
“On one away trip I ordered room service. It wasn’t anything unhealthy but I wasn’t sure if it was a rule or not. Anyway, apparently it wasn’t OK and I was sent home from the trip. Things like that didn’t help me. I felt it was harsh. I hate playing the victim or feeling sorry for myself.”
He admitted in the interview that he feels a more rounded person and crucially, he spoke about stepping back up, which his move to Lincoln has helped fulfil.
“I’m still only 21. I’ve played in the Championship, I’ve lived in London, I’ve had loan moves. I’ve experienced all of that so I’d like to think that I’m a pretty rounded footballer – and person – now.
“Hopefully I can go and have a good season or two at Macclesfield before climbing back up the way. I believe in the decision I made to come here. Listen, even my pals joke with me about playing League Two, but it’s competitive and for young players it’s a great place to get experience.”
Archibald certainly seems to fit the bill for the Imps; young and ambitious, big club pedigree but small club experience and a desire to fulfil an early promise. He also fills one of the roles I’ve felt we’ve been lacking in, the wide areas, and can play either side of the pitch. It’s additional pressure on Elbouzedi and maybe even Jorge Grant, although both Grant and Archibald can play either flank.
He joins Ethan Ross, James Jones, Conor McGrandles, Liam Bridcutt, Lewis Montsma, Joe Walsh and Adam Jackson in signing for City permanently this summer, with TJ Eyoma also joining on loan from Spurs.