Imps Monitoring 25-Year-Old Striker

City are one of several clubs keeping an eye on Notts County’s 25-year-old forward, Rúben Rodrigues, according to former Imps writer Leigh Curtis.

Rodrigues has hit seven in 13 for the Magpies in the National League this season, including a last-gasp winner against our one-time local rivals Grimsby Town yesterday. The Portuguese forward has recently been deployed as a second striker for County, with great effect. He’s scored five in his last seven matches, and that’s not only attracted our interest, but also that of Blackpool and League One rivals Rotherham United.

Rodrigues, described as ‘bewitching’ on the ball by Leigh, was born in Portugal but moved to the Netherlands as a youth. He played for Wilhelmina Boys before a year with VV Gemert. That led to a trial with Eerste Divisie side Den Bosch, a team at the same level as Lewis Montsma and Lewis Fiorini’s former clubs. In 2018/19, he was loaned to De Treffers where he bagged four goals in 17, but the following season he made his mark with his parent club.

He netted 12 goals in 28 outings, leading to a move to County in August 2020. Last season, he scored 13 in 41, and was awarded the league’s Player of the Month award for May 2021, as well as the Magpies Fan’s Player of the Year. This season he has picked up where he left off with a strong run of form, but he won’t be leaving on the cheap – he’s got a contract that runs until the end of next season.

A look at Wyscout shows he can play anywhere across the front and has appeared in an advanced central midfield role, a wide left position, but most regularly up front. It is the sort of flexibility that Michael likes, but there might be an element of rawness about him that means he wouldn’t fit straight into a first-team berth. If he were to sign, he would be very much a project player, although I guess there are County fans reading this and laughing. It’s a bit like someone saying Sean Raggett was a project player when he left us in the National League; we see a player with no EFL experience currently two leagues below us, but they see a player of such talent they have little doubt he could step up.

I’ve had a look at his stats this season and they’re impressive; he’s on 5.19 dribbles per game, which is something our fans would love to see a bit more of, and he’s outperforming his xG, which means he’s a clinical finisher and a real livewire. It’s an interesting link for the Imps, and whilst it might not be one with an immediate first-team impact, I can see why we’d be checking him out; obvious stumbling blocks include a possible fee, the lure of Blackpool in the Championship and Rotherham who I think will be next year.