Birmingham City confirmed this morning that Riley McGree has returned to his parent club, Charlotte FC, ahead of the new MLS season.
The occurrence would have been something that Lee Bowyer and his recruitment team had time to plan for, McGree’s loan expires at the end of 2021, and it will be interesting to see what replacement is sourced in the January transfer window. Tahith Chong was an exciting addition on loan at the start of the season but the Dutchman’s injury saw him forced to return to Manchester United for treatment.
A well travelled player and manager, Bowyer will have plenty of contacts in looking to recruit next month and he needs to bring in a capable player to steer the Blues clear of getting dragged into the relegation conversation.
Here, we have taken a look at three potential replacements the Blues could pursue in light of Riley McGree’s departure…
The trio of suggestions are all potential Premier League loanees and prolific England youth international Sam Greenwood could be on the shortlist. Lee Bowyer enjoyed some great times at Leeds United as a player and could be trusted to give the club’s youngsters a positive experience.
Greenwood is a bit more attacking than McGree who could easily slot into midfield from his more familiar number ten role. Greenwood is a capable number ten who has also played as a striker in his career. The 19-year-old’s energy could be a good foil for the more physical threats of Troy Deeney and Lukas Jutkiewicz playing ahead of him.
A more local option, Bruno Jordao was an unused substitute in Wolverhampton Wanderers’ last Premier League outing. The 23-year-old spent time in the Liga Portugal with Famalicao last term but at 23 needs to start proving that he can handle regular first team action. Jordao has played for Lazio and Portugal U21 in the past but has only managed four senior appearances for Wolves since signing in the summer of 2019.
Jordao needs Birmingham as much as they need him and as a more conventional central midfielder, he could learn a lot from Lee Bowyer.
Quiz: Did Birmingham City do these 22 things in 2021?
The wildcard, 18-year-old highly rated attacking midfielder Hannibal Mejbri could be the ideal candidate to replace Riley McGree at St Andrew’s.
Mejbri is a very technical player and has shone in Premier League 2 in recent seasons for his composed ball manipulation and relentless energy in central areas.
He has already been capped nine times by Tunisia but aside from that has only made one appearance in senior football. With a pre-existing relationship between the two clubs following the Chong loan signing, the Blues should go back in pursuit of Mejbri to upgrade their attacking play in the aftermath of Riley McGree’s exit.