New Dundalk FC sporting director Jim Magilton says the club are “very close” to adding a couple of new signings to their ranks for next season.
So far Norwegian striker Ole Erik Midtskogen is the only new arrival confirmed at Oriel Park for the 2021 campaign. (Goalkeeper Alessio Abibi was later confirmed on Tuesday afternoon).
However, the club are hopeful of tying down up to seven new additions in the coming weeks. This includes two internationals, one of whom is understood to be centre half Sonni Nattestad – the 31-times capped Faroe Islands international who The Argus exclusively revealed head coach Filippo Giovagnoli was interested in last week.
Also understood to be on the club’s radar is 24-year-old Latvian full back Raivis Jurkovskis, currently on the books of FK Liepaja in his homeland, who has made 13 appearances for the national team.
Ironically, Nattestad and Jurkovskis shared a pitch as recently as last November when Latvia drew 1-1 with the Faroes in a UEFA Nations League game in Riga.
Also understood to be on the club’s radar is a Canadian player and another goalkeeper, who is believed to be American.
Asked when fans could expect to see further new arrivals at Oriel Park, Magilton said: “We can say that we’re very close to a few things. We’ve got two internationals lined up and we’re not very far away from either of them but it’s just about having a little bit more conversation and we should get over the line.
“We’ll be delighted with both acquisitions. One is a centre half and the other one can play across both full back areas and wide areas.
“We’re delighted that we’ve managed to speak to them. Filippo has done a fantastic job in communicating with those guys and their agents and we’re very close.”
Magilton also revealed another player was also close and spoke about the importance mentality would be when it came to bringing in any new recruits.
“We’ve got another exciting one coming that we think is going to be a good player too.
“We really like the shape of him and what he could bring to the table in terms of pace and power and the ability to play.
“He plays down one of the sides. He’s a left footed kid as well so we’re giving ourselves options. We want flexibility and adaptability in the team as well, with the option obviously to change shape but it’s really about their attitude to the game.
“It’s people in that mould that we’re looking for.
“We’re trying to bring a culture to the football club. Not every foreign player that comes to a football club changes the culture but they bring with them a different attitude. When I was at a club and we got a foreign acquisition we always looked to see if we could pick things up from him and that’s the mentality that we’re trying to bring in and we want to be very open minded about how we do that.
“We’re speaking to our senior players when we’re discussing this and we’re getting buy in. We want the players to take ownership of this.
“We’ve had extensive conversations with the players that we’ve identified. You can speak to a player and say you’re not sure about him. It’s very difficult at the moment because we’re only speaking to them via Zoom calls or phone calls. An agent can tell you the M25 isn’t busy and send you a video but when you see it yourself you can say it’s chock-a-blocked.”
Magilton also confirmed the club’s interest in South Korean winger Han Eui-Gwon.
Dundalk could be set to raid the Asian market for the first time in the club’s history as part of a wider strategy to expand the club’s brand into the Far East.
News broke on Sunday that Filippo Giovagnoli’s side were interested in Eui-Gwon, who has made 70 appearances in the K League 1 in recent seasons for current club Suwon Samsung Bluewings where he won a Korean Cup medal in 2019.
Speaking to The Argus that night, the club’s new sporting director Jim Magilton confirmed the club’s interest in the 26-year-old and said the possibility of a deal happening excited him in more ways than one.
“We have spoken to him and his agent. He is extremely keen to come but we just have to work on the finer details and with the FAI in terms of getting work permits but he’s certainly someone we’re looking to bring in. He excites me a lot.
“We’re looking to expose and expand the brand as far as possible but he’s also a good player.
“If we can attract players from that part of the world it means that the Dundalk FC brand gets more exposure, the league gets more exposure and it could then open opportunities for other players to come into the league and we know that Korean players bring a fantastic attitude and work ethic and they’re top, top people,” said Magilton.
The sporting director said the club were willing to invest if the “right player” came along.
“We have a fantastic core group of players. Yes, we’ve lost one or two. That’s part of the process but if good players come up we have three way conversations between Filippo, myself and Bill.
“If the right player comes along at the right price then we’re going to explore the option. We’re constantly exploring options. We’re constantly on the phone. We’re constantly on Wyscout because we can’t go see players in person at the moment and we’re constantly speaking to the right people and contacts that we have.
“It’s non-stop from the moment you wake up but it’s pretty exciting too,” he said.
Magilton did express the view that Dundalk would need another midfielder though but dismissed speculation linking the club with a move for Linfield’s former Waterford and Limerick midfielder, Bastien Hery.
“It’s always important to have a strong spine,” he said.
“You can flit around the edges but we’re still looking at potentially another midfield player.
“We like the shape of our attack. We’ve got David McMillan re-signed again, you’ve got Pat Hoban, who I’m sure will come back firing on all cylinders and we’ve got Ole now so there’s a nice combination there. We’ve filled in some of the blanks in the wide areas. I still think we’re a midfield player short and we’ll be looking to probably strengthen in that area.”