Charlotte FC made two defensive acquisitions in the final stages of the MLS summer transfer window. One veteran right back in Nathan Byrne and one for the future, center back Adilson Malanda.
Both instantly improve the team by providing different skillsets but also serve as building blocks for the future. Let’s break down the Crown’s latest additions on defense:
Byrne arrives in the Queen City at the pinnacle of his fruitful career. Just last season he was named Derby County’s Players’ Player of the Year in the English Championship and it’s easy to see why – he’s as reliable as they come.
In the last five seasons, Byrne has played almost every single minute available to him in the Championship. He’s made 204 appearances, averaging 40 matches played per season and you know what they say... the best ability is availability.
However, in order to play that consistently at the Championship level, clearly a player has qualities that are desirable. In Byrne’s case it’s a well-rounded skillset that allows him to impact matches on both sides of the pitch.
“He's compact, tough, and has strong legs. He's a competitor. If you go around him, he's coming back for you and he’s coming back for you again. He has a lot of bite,” describes CLTFC Director of Scouting Thomas Schaling. “What's great about him in possession is that he can play on the inside and on the outside. He can go around and overlap but also underlap and play and link up very easily with teammates. He is composed in possession and he has a good final ball as well. We are very happy to be able to bring in a player with Nathan’s experience and character.”
Byrne will likely easily adjust to the physical rigors of MLS and will also be a great addition to the locker room with his professionalism and competitive nature. Not to mention he’ll have a familiar face in Kamil Jóźwiak who was previously teammates with him at Derby County.
Malanda is on the opposite end of the spectrum in comparison to Nathan Byrne. While Byrne is an established professional player, the 20-year-old center back is just starting his professional journey.
The Frenchmen had a breakout season this past year in the second division of France, making a total of 34 appearances for Rodez. An impressive feat for a position that has one of the steepest learning curves due to the natural smaller margin of error.
Standing at 6-foot-4, Malanda will come in as the tallest center back on the CLTFC roster which naturally helps with aerial ability. Despite his height, his leaner frame allows for good mobility but doesn’t sacrifice toughness in his duels.
“What stands out most about Malanda is his ability in possession in combination with his physical potential. He has a good frame, speed and mobility and combines these physical attributes with excellent vision and good passing range," said Schaling. "He is composed in possession, shows a willingness to take initiative and progress the ball, and can break defensive lines with passes on the ground. We feel that we have a very talented center back on our hands. Someone whose skills we need to hone and develop further. Our future at center back looks bright with Adilson.”
Charlotte have improved on their already solid defensive core with their latest signings. Most importantly, they are signings that align with the transfer philosophy that the Club has laid out from the start – making the team competitive now without compromising its future.
“Part of our strategy in the summer window is not only bringing in competitive depth to help us as the season winds down,” said CLTFC Sporting Director Zoran Krneta, “But to also add more building blocks that sets our squad up for success down the road.”