If you haven't been paying attention, there's a storm a-brewin' in Oklahoma City. Clearly, this team is done tanking, but are we underrating how capable this team is? One of the youngest teams in league history that plays hard with an unselfish and fluid brand of basketball. 10th in defensive rating. 14th in offensive rating. With less than a month...
Who I Would Sign for AFC Richmond
The Premier League is the most popular and challenging league the soccer/football world has to offer. The teams have the most lucrative contracts in the industry, causing the standard to compete in this league to get more extreme. As mentioned in my article about Leicester City's struggle against relegation, the mean Premier League clubs spent on new transfers in the summer was 123 million. This means that even little old Richmond will have to splash the cash to survive Ted Lasso's promotion in Season 2 of the show.
As a big fan of the show, I noticed that the club doesn't seem to have a sporting director. They have an Owner (Rebecca Welton), a Director of Football Operations (Leslie Higgins), a Manager (Ted Lasso), and Assistant Coaches (Coach Beard and Roy Kent), but the club may need some serious help with recruitment and identifying talent.
Especially since the intelligent football mind of "Nate the Great" has now gone to West Ham. That is where I step in.
Now, AFC Richmond is no Real Madrid, so the players recommended won't all be household names. Let's look at some players I think would be a great fit in the culture Ted Lasso has built for the Greyhounds.
Reece Oxford, FC Augsburg
Reece Oxford is an awfully hard player to forget. At just 16 years old, he took the world by storm when he clamped World Class creative midfielder Mesut Ozil for 90 minutes in West Ham's season opener at the Emirates Stadium. Oxford has become famous for the joke that while waiting for the GCSE results (similar to England's version of the SAT/ACT), he casually had a World Cup winner in his back pocket. Unfortunately, since that Man of the Match for his performance against Arsenal, he has yet to have a better game.
Since Oxford's breakout in 2015, he never really lived up to the hype and had four different loan moves from 2017-19. He has finally found a new home in Germany with FC Augsburg. And while injury issues have limited Oxford to just three games this season, 2021/22 offered a glimpse into his potential. Oxford played in 31 matches, excelling primarily as a center-back and sometimes as a defensive midfielder.
With Nate Shelley officially becoming West Ham's new manager and Rebecca's ex-husband, Rupert, taking over as the club's new owner, what better way to stick it to Richmond's newest rival than to rekindle the career of the club's former wonder boy? Still only 24, Reece could play a big role in replacing the infamous Roy Kent's spot in midfield or slotting in at center back to cover for Isaac McAdoo or Jan Maas.
Jeremie Frimpong, Bayer Leverkusen
Richmond's current starter at right-back is Arlo Dixon, who has only served as a background character. Considering he is just a character named in honor of Arlo White and Lee Dixon, Richmond can expand their cast in this position.
Not only is Jeremie Frimpong a star on the field, but he is just as charming off of it. From funny interviews to hilarious content on Bayer Leverkusen's YouTube channel, Frimpong was born for the camera. Frimpong would fit right in with the squad. I can just envision him now having all sorts of quirky dialogue with Sam Obisanya, Colin Hughes, and of course, the coaching staff.
Frimpong is also one of the brightest right-backs/right-wing backs the world has to offer right now. Frimpong has already tallied seven goals and six assists this season in the Bundesliga and is also a talented dribbler. With Sam Obisanya also capable of playing right-back, Frimpong could be a great partner for him on the right to make overlapping runs or even offer Lasso the perfect right wing-back if the team occasionally changes their system.
@bayer04 The one and only: Jeremie #Frimpong… 😂😂😂 #FIFA #FIFA22 #Prediction @Callum Hudson-Odoi ♬ Originalton - bayer04
Callum Hudson-Odoi, Chelsea (Loan at Bayer Leverkusen)
Once the star boy Chelsea academy product with a chance at wearing the number 10 shirt for the club, Callum Hudson-Odoi's career has taken a rough turn. Hudson-Odoi now finds himself at Bayer Leverkusen on loan with 21 appearances for the club, while only being able to contribute one goal and one assist. His loan spell has gone so poorly that he has not made an appearance for the club in their last five games and considering the club went unbeaten in those five, he may struggle to play significant minutes at all the rest of the year. As for his time at his permanent club, Chelsea, they have just signed Mykhaylo Mudryk for a fee of about 70 million, so a return looks unlikely.
It may be hard to believe that three years ago, Bayern Munich was willing to do anything to buy him, but I have not given up on Hudson-Odoi at all. In fact, I think that his managers have failed him. The best version of Hudson-Odoi we have seen was when he was 18 years old in Maurizio Sarri's Chelsea side. He played as a left winger in a 4-3-3 system. After that promising season, he never played that role again. Chelsea being Chelsea, then moved on to have two different coaches over the next three seasons, Frank Lampand and Thomas Tuchel, who were hesitant to play Callum at all, and when they did, he was often out of position. Even at Leverkusen, Callum often finds himself playing as a 10 in a 3-4-3 system that seems to never get the best out of the type of player he is.
Richmond doesn't have that issue. They play a traditional 4-4-2 that can look like a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 when Jamie Tartt drops deep into midfield to get on the ball. This formation allows the wingers to be traditional in that their only real job is to help the full-backs defensively and pick up the ball in wide positions to dribble at the opposition. The role sounds perfect for him, and with his main competition at left midfielder being Colin Hughes, it sounds like Richmond could give themselves a real upgrade.
João Pedro, Watford
A bit more of a niche suggestion, but every team needs a Brazilian, especially on a show highlighting a professional soccer team that continues to get more diverse. Why not add a player from potentially the most influential footballing country in the world?
João Pedro is, in my opinion, clearly the best player in the second tier of English football right now. For a club like Richmond, it is a great idea to mooch players off clubs in a worse situation. With Watford down in the second tier and struggling to fight their way to the top of the table, I am sure João would love the chance to move to the Premier league.
Tactically, João Pedro is an intriguing player. He can operate as a striker, attacking midfielder, or left winger, so I believe he would provide elite depth for Richmond if any of their main stars go down with an injury. As much as I like Jamie Tartt, he is a complete wild card, and depending on only him to lead your offensive production is a massive gamble for the club. He does seem to have a growing relationship with Ted Lasso and has already tested the waters at a big club like Man City. Still, if he has a phenomenal season, it wouldn't surprise me to see him leave for a new opportunity yet again. If he does, here is your replacement.
Yunus Musah, Valencia
Let's be real here- Ted Lasso needs an American on his team. Gio Reyna could probably benefit from a relationship with Ted, but he is currently at Borussia Dortmund and would unlikely want that move.
With the retirement of Roy Kent, Richmond is in the market for a new box-to-box midfielder. After his impressive World Cup, Musah looks primed to get a move to a Premier League side. Musah has the lungs needed to cover the distance required of a center mid in a 4-4-2 system while also being an exceptional player at progressing the ball. When compared to other positional peers in Europe's top 5 leagues, Yunus Musah is in the 97th percentile for Progressive Carries (3.21 per 90), 90th percentile for Progressive Passes Received (4.19 per 90), and in the 83rd percentile for Successful Take-Ons (1.21). It makes him an exciting and worthy addition to partner Montlaur, Bumbercatch, or Oxford in midfield.
With Valencia in 17th in La Liga and Jesse Marsch no longer at Leeds to call in every American player looking for a new challenge, why not take his next step with Lasso?
Bjorn Meijer, Club Brugge
Bjorn Meijer is a unique prospect already highly touted by clubs across Europe. Meijer is unique because it isn't very often you find a left back/left wing back that is 6'3". Jeremie Frimpong won't be the best defensive right-back in the league, but at least he has Sam Obisanya playing in front of him, who started his career as a right-back. If Callum Hudson-Odoi becomes the new left winger, Richmond will need a solid defensive left back, and Meijer offers just that.
Because of his height and technical ability, Meijer has the potential to play left-back, left-wing-back, and center-back, making him a very versatile player. Kind of similar to how Graham Potter used Dan Burn during his time at Brighton. Richmond already has an experienced left-back at the club in Jeff Goodman, but bringing in a 19-year-old with a high upside could be a great addition.
Honorable Mention: Harry Maguire, Manchester United
Alright, hear me out here. The current club captain of Manchester United is not a very popular guy in world football. He may be known as one of the worst transfer flops ever, but there is a reason why this guy was an expensive signing. If Maguire were to go to a team where all they would ask of him is to win aerial duels and tackles, he would look great again. Just look at his excellent performances for Southgate's England teams and their employment of basic tactics. In a Richmond team that plays a 4-4-2 and is unlikely to dominate many games in possession, we might see that player that used to exist at Leicester City begin to flourish again. It will be tough to accomplish because of his expensive wages, but it is worth considering.
And since AFC Richmond was added to FIFA 23, I can highlight what this new look Greyhounds side could look like on paper:
Or if Ted Lasso wanted to get a little bit more creative like some managers have been today:
According to transfermarkt.com, the six targets highlighted in this article add up to a current transfer value of about 113.5 million euros, putting us about 10 million below the average spend mentioned earlier. Rebecca will have to open that bag to sign the players I suggested, but that is just the nature of the beast in the Premier League these days.
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Who I Would Sign for AFC Richmond
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