Imps Land Highly-Rated Attacking Midfielder

Credit Graham Burrell

After a couple of days of speculation, the Imps have announced the capture of attacking midfielder Danny Mandroiu from Shamrock Rovers.

The move, which is still subject to international clearance, is one Imps fans could see as one of the biggest of the summer. The 23-year-old, who was with Brighton and Hove Albion as a youngster, has been eyed by several clubs in the past, including Celtic, MK Dons and FC Twente from the Netherlands. He was due to drive Shamrock’s attack this week in the Champions League against Hibernians (of Malta, not Scotland), but instead came to England to finalise his deal with City.

Whilst not mentioned in the press release, it’s believed Mandroiu cost a ‘nominal’ five-figure fee, which was part of his contract, possibly in the region of £30,000. The attacking player will join up with his City teammates next week following the pre-season training camp in Hungary.

Now, why should Lincoln fans be excited by this move? Well, whilst it is dangerous to assume a player can move from one country to another and be successful, I think he has all the qualities to do so. Mandroiu was highly-regarded at Shamrock, and he’s a versatile attacker. He can play as an attacking midfielder (in terms of position alone, think Jack Payne or Shay McCartan), but he’s versatile. He can operate on the wing, or as a centre-forward, which gives us an impressive range of attacking options. We’ve also seen players coming from Ireland and being successful in this country before; Jeff Hughes was one we got from Northern Ireland, whilst Gavin Whyte and Mark sykes have been a resounding success for Oxford United, again from Northern Ireland. In the past, Seamus Coleman, James McClean, Kevin Doyle, Shane Long and Wes Hoolahan have all made the move to England and done well.

Mandroiu is his own man though, and his numbers from the last couple of seasons stack up. In 2021, he scored 15 goals for Shamrock, with a further three assists. This season, at the halfway stage, he has seven goals and two assists, and they’re not tap-ins either. Against Finn Harps in May, he bagged a diving header, and he likes to arrive on the end of a cross from what I’ve seen. He’s a lively player, certainly attack-minded, and he gets in good positions in and around the area.

Thus far this season he’s eighth in the LOI for goals and assists and fourth for expected goals and assists. He’s fourth in the division for shots (53) and fourth for shots per 90 minutes (3.67). Impressively, he is first for the percentage of shots on target, with 50.94% – that’s more the Eoin Doyle, the veteran striker currently at St Patrick’s. He also has the fourth-highest touches in the box per 90 minutes in the league with 4.3. Opposition defenders clearly know his threat; he’s the second-most fouled player in the league, both in total (45) and per 90 minutes (3.12).

I can see why we’ve moved for Mandroiu; he’s certainly one with a lot of potential and he’s of an age where you’d expect him around the first team, rather than being labelled one for the future. Many Shamrock fans think this is a step backwards for him, given they’re in the Champions League, but it’s the opposite; we might be a similar size to them, but performing on the English stage means more than doing it in Ireland. Ask Gavin Whyte; he joined Oxford in 2018 for an undisclosed fee thought to be around £100,000, and within a year he’d gone to Cardiff for £2m. I can see parallels here; ok, Whyte came from Northern Ireland, but they’re both attacking players, both done well at home and both watched and coveted by other clubs.

It’s hard to say whether a transfer is good or bad without the benefit of hindsight (or foresight perhaps), but for me, this is the signing of the summer so far. Perhaps it’s because I like attacking players, I like players who find pockets of space, who time runs into the box and get fans excited. Having watched him in action for the last hour or so, I can see some delicious left-wing crosses being served up by either Charles Vernam or Anthony Scully, and our new boy arriving on the end of them.

Now, Clive hinted at one more; let’s hope by Friday night those few pessimistic fans have a bit more hope for a decent season.