Who was the Danish winger who didn’t score in his 11 games before his loan was terminated months early? Bashkim Kadrii.
Who was the Peruvian midfielder who played in 18 games — more than any other Loon loanee — but never scored, much less had many shots on goal? Alexi Gomez.
The Loons looked to distance themselves from this lackluster list with the Sunday, Feb. 10, announced addition of Italian goalkeeper, Vito Mannone, who arrives on a one-season loan from Reading FC, a club struggling in England’s second division.
The Loons’ failure to hit on a successful loan hasn’t been catastrophic because of the short-term nature of the deals — from six to 12 or 18 months — and most of these additions weren’t expected to be role players, much less headliners. Realizing a player isn’t going to work out without long-term ramifications can been a blessing. Other times (see: Maximiano), the terms of the purchase option don’t work out with the club on the other side.
But Mannone is expected to make a difference in Minnesota. His contract used Targeted Allocation Money (TAM), meaning he is one of the more-expensive players on the Loons’ budget for 2019, and the club believes Mannone’s wealth of experience will help snap its MLS-worst mark of 141 goals allowed over two consecutive season.
At age 17, Mannone arrived the north London club on the heels of their “Invincibles” team in 2003-04, one of the greatest Premier League teams ever, featuring Thierry Henry, Robert Pires, Dennis Bergkamp and goalkeeper Jens Lehmann.
“Great experience,” Mannone said. “I always dreamt as a kid to join a big club like Arsenal and when I did it was incredible. … My legs were shaking the first few days, but then I got on with it as a job. I learned from the best.”
“When you bring in somebody (with) Vito’s experience and what he’s done in the game, obviously there’s going to be a competition,” United coach Adrian Heath said Monday.
Bobby Shuttleworth, who has started 57 games for the Loons in two seasons, knew this scenario was coming. The Loons had put goalkeeper on their offseason wish list and cleared most of the deck by letting go of last year’s backups, Matt Lampson and Alex Kapp.
“As I’ve said to Bobby, ‘You wouldn’t be the first guy to beat an oversees player out, if it happens,’ ” Heath said. “It will very much be up to him and Vito and (rookie) Dayne (St. Claire) to work out who becomes the No. 1.”
Mannone is looking for a fresh start after he said he suffered an ankle injury in September, the beginning stages of the 2018-19 season at Reading. He was out for about six weeks, and afterward, he saw new leadership at the club — and other goalies ahead of him on the depth chart.
“I look forward to staying here and enjoying my time,” Mannone said. “We spoke to the club already. If my family is happy and I’m happy, maybe we look to the future and we go from there. … Obviously if both parties are happy, it’s a discussion we will have in 10 months time. To be honest, it’s difficult to say now.”