City leave it late to bag Premier League prospect

This weekend the Imps were undone by a strike from an on-loan Brighton midfielder, so why not go out and get one of our own?

That’s certainly the case as we have completed the signing of 22-year-old Max Sanders from the Seagulls, with just two minutes to go. The versatile midfielder has appeared three times for the Premier League side, all in the EFL Trophy, and was earmarked as their top Under 23 talents by 90 Minutes earlier this season. He was reported as ‘stealing the show’ during their win against Preston, and it was widely reported that a number of Championship clubs had coveted his signature on a loan deal.

Back in the days of Chris Hughton, a man notorious for not naming young players on the bench, Sanders made it twice against Manchester United in the 2017-18 season FA Cup quarter-final and when Liverpool won 1-0 at the Amex in January 2019. He also captained the Brighton’s Under 23 side at the age of 20, and was skipper in the 2017-18 season play off final in which saw his side promoted to the top flight of Premier League 2.

The Horsham-born schemer usually sits in front of the back four, but in his time with Brighton has played in a number of positions. In 2018/19 he played LW in one Under 23 game, attacking midfield in another, but usually played in the central role as a traditional ‘4’ or ‘6 depending on what number scheme you abide by.

He isn’t just a wet-behind-the-ears youngster with no senior experience though. Last season he played for AFC Wimbledon on loan, starting 18 League One matches, having originally been with the Wombles as a youngster. In addition, he has also been capped at Under 19 level for England on four occasions, all coming during the 2018 Under-19 European Championships.


Sanders in action against Preston

This season, his form in those EFL trophy outings piqued the interest of former Chelsea and Aston Villa midfielder Steve Sidwell, who said of Sanders:  “In the previous round at Preston, he was probably the man of the match. Nice, neat and tidy on the ball. He puts his foot in. Tries to get forward as well.”

He also impressed Portsmouth News reporter Will Rooney, who identified Sanders as the type of player he wanted to see move to Fratton Park this window. Speaking at the beginning of last month, Rooney said: “He had a good season at Wimbledon last season, he played against Pompey in the cup earlier in the season, and then he really impressed against a Championship side in Preston in their subsequent game in the League Cup.

“He’s done it at a lower club and now’s the time to move up to a Pompey where he can really show how good he is and how far he could go by moving up to a club where there’s going to be a lot more pressure on him to perform.”

Well, sadly for them, he hasn’t chosen to move to Portsmouth but instead dropped into Sincil Bank with a bucket load of potential. This is an eyebrow-raising move for the Imps, and whilst it might not be the striker some hoped for, I have to point out the late deal we secured for Anthony Scully last season around the same time. He was a young player coming from a strong academy, little was known about him and ultimately, he has done very well.

I have a feeling Sanders might well be a player who doesn’t get pulses racing reading this, because few know about him at Sincil Bank, but turns out to be yet another very strong acquisition by the club.