The Imps are being linked with a move for 26-year-old former Gillingham winger Jordan Graham, as per Football League World.
This rumour has been doing the rounds for a while and I did mention it as part of a transfer roundup earlier in the season. It isn’t beyond the realms of possibility, it was suggested we were looking at Graham in the winter window and now he is a free agent, there may be more scope. Gillingham fans seem to think he might be heading to the Championship, which given his season for them you could understand, but at the same time, he is a player who must choose his next club carefully. Could Michael Appleton’s experience of making choices early in his managerial career he now regrets strike a chord with Graham?
I’m not so sure, but as a reputable source has put it out there, I’ll drop a comment. Last season, Graham was excellent for Gillingham, scoring 13 times and adding seven assists. He’s a right-winger, but could certainly player on either side, and he made 349 dribbles through the course of the campaign with a 67% success rate. When you compare that to our own right-winger, Brennan Johnson, the numbers stack up. Johnson scored 12, one fewer, and assisted five, two fewer. He also made 294 dribbles with a 54% success rate. Bear in mind, Johnson had a good season, ended up being rated at £10m according to some, which highlights how well Graham did for the Gills.
Where has Graham come from, you probably ask? Well, early in his career he was definitely Michael Appleton’s type of player. He emerged from the youth ranks at Aston Villa, appearing for England at Under 16 and Under 17 level. He had loan spells at Ipswich, Bradford City and Wolves, before moving to the latter in 2015 whilst they were in the Championship. His time at Wolves was not a success, he appeared just 14 times in the second tier, scoring once, but crucially he had a five-game loan spell with none other than Oxford United, then managed by Michael Appleton. His initial loan was extended as he began to thrive there, but he was recalled after Wolves got an injury crisis.
At the time, Michael vowed to keep tabs on the player, saying: “We wish him well and will certainly keep an eye on his progress. It’s a shame because he has done really well for us and was enjoying being part of the squad.”
He later had spells on loan with Fulham, Ipswich and Gillingham, as well as another stint at Oxford, before leaving Molineux in May 2020. Interestingly, he was due to enjoy a season-long loan with Lokomotiv Plovdiv, but it fell through when FIFA clearance was not forthcoming.
Are we likely to see Graham signing for City? I’d say the chances are slim, he has had a sensational season for the Gills and at 26 he may feel he needs to get back into the Championship as soon as possible, where Birmingham City are thought to be waiting. However, having previously played under Michael there is a connection there that may work in our favour, and he is the sort of signing I could see us wanting. He could fill a void left by Brennan’s departure and I suspect Michael wants less reliance on loan players this season, and more of our own talent in attacking areas.
If we were to secure this deal, it would be a significant coup for the Imps, you only need to listen to Gills fans to know how they rate him and how unlikely they feel a move to Lincoln would be for him. It does promise to be an interesting summer and even the fact we are rumoured to be moving for Jordan Graham makes me excited for when the signings do begin to trickle in.