Red Bulls close to loan deal for Watford striker Ashley Fletcher
The New York Red Bulls are finalizing a deal for England striker Ashley Fletcher to join the club on loan from English Premier League side Watford FC.
Thursday afternoon, journalist Tom Barclay said that New York manager Gerhard Struber was “a huge fan” of the 26-year-old target man and that the Red Bulls were confident of closing the deal. A US-based source confirmed Once a subway that such an agreement is in the final stages and awaits the approval of the league office.
Fletcher is a product of history Manchester United academy, having grown up in nearby Bradford, Yorkshire. After seven years in United’s youth system, Fletcher left aged 20 in 2016 on a moderately successful 5-goal loan spell at Barnsley before joining the rival Premier League club. West Ham United permanently that summer. After just one scoreless season in east London, Fletcher returned up north for a four-year stint at Championship side Middlesbrough where he established his professional bona fide with 28 goals in 108 appearances over four seasons before moving on. joining Watford ahead of the current top-flight campaign.
Gerhard Struber’s reputable interest is supported by circumstantial evidence. At the end of 2019, in Struber’s second game as Barnsley manager, Fletcher scored a remarkable goal for Middlesbrough where he delicately rounded both a defender and keeper with one sweep.
Such interest is corroborated by the breadcrumb trail left by its current sporting director, Kevin Thelwell. Fletcher was linked to Thelwell’s Wolverhampton Wanderers outfit at various times in 2016 and 2017 when he left Manchester United for his unsuccessful stint at West Ham.
The 6’1” Fletcher would appear to be a direct replacement and perhaps even an upgrade for Fábio Gomes, the Brazilian striker who left the Red Bulls this winter after his loan from Oeste expired. Although center forward was not one of the positions cited by Gerhard Struber yesterday as he lamented what he considers an unsatisfactory transfer windowsecuring a player of Fletcher’s profile is likely to be met with enthusiasm by the Austrian.
Despite Fábio’s three-inch height advantage over Fletcher, he often struggled to control the long aerial passes used by the Red Bulls to fend off opponents and initiate pressing scenarios. Meanwhile, Fletcher scored half his headed goals in his most successful season at Middlesbrough in 2019-20, a skill that becomes all the more impressive when considered in the context of the infamous second English aeronautics and physics division.
But Fletcher would also reflect Fábio less flatteringly in having a temporary contract with the club. After a season where the club relied on loans to fill the gap for a long-term squad rebuild, Struber and Thelwell saw such a strategy contributing to troublesome squad turnover despite the successful retention of Carlos Coronel, Caden Clark and Tom Edwards. Whether or not Fletcher’s eventual loan has a buyout clause is sure to grab the attention of a New York fanbase who have become more accustomed to the details of roster politics in recent years than they have. might not want it.
But in the meantime, the Red Bulls appear to have added what could be one last vital piece to their attacking corps for 2022. Assuming the club’s manager commits throughout the year, the “key players ” that he desires seem to fall into place.