French-born pair could strengthen Dundalk squad for the new campaign

French-born pair could strengthen Dundalk squad for the new campaign

Dundalk are likely to wrap up the signing of a new midfielder ahead of the start of the new campaign this weekend.

It is understood that Central African Republic international Wilfried Zahibo has agreed terms for a move to Oriel Park.

The 27-year-old French-born player has most recently been plying his trade in the MLS where he was named in the 2018 MLS All Star team following a successful debut season at New England Revolution.

The article as it appeared in The Argus on March 16th 2021

A free agent since departing Houston Dynamo at the end of last year, Zahibo has previously played in France for Ajaccio and also in La Liga for Valencia where he made his debut under Gary Neville.

The 6ft 2in midfielder, who was raised in Guadeloupe, also has four caps for his country who are captained by Atletico Madrid’s Geoffrey Kondogbia.

Fluent in English, French and Spanish, Zahibo has already agreed terms with Dundalk with the deal expected to be finalised soon.

It may be a couple of weeks before he is available for selection, however, as it is understood he is returning to France before coming to Ireland with isolation periods in both countries meaning that a possible debut in Dundalk’s league opener away to Sligo Rovers this Saturday (kick-off 6pm, live on WATCHLOI) is out of the question.

Another French-born player could also be signed by the club this week.

As exclusively revealed by The Argus last week, Irish U-19 international Tom Gaston is arriving on trial.

The 20-year-old French born defender came through the ranks at his home town club Bordeaux without making a first-team appearance before spending time at the Portland Timbers in America last year.

He has played four matches at underage level for Ireland under Jim Crawford in recent years with Ireland winning all of them without conceding. Among the high-profile team-mates he would have played with include Adam Idah, Jason Knight, Aaron Connolly and Will Smallbone.

While he was born and grew up in France, he is eligible to play for Ireland through his Dublin-born mother.

A third goalkeeper also is also on the agenda with Shamrock Rovers youngster Alex Moody training with Dundalk this week while the club could also be set for a return to the South Korean market for a new winger having missed out on Han Eui-gwon recently after the 26-year-old failed to secure a work permit.

Asked about the possibility of new arrivals, team manager Shane Keegan refused to comment on the speculation, saying: “I can’t really say a whole lot on it outside of the fact that if there are players who are out of contract and who are gettable for us and as a group we feel they’d improve the squad then the club have said that they’re willing to give us the backing to make it happen if we feel a suitable player is out there.”

Dundalk still looking to strengthen their squad before season commences

Dundalk still looking to strengthen their squad before season commences

Dundalk could possibly add further to their squad before the start of the season with a number of free agents currently being eyed up by Filippo Giovagnoli’s side.

The club’s sporting director Jim Magilton admitted to The Argus last week that the Lilywhites were still in the market for a playmaker and a goalkeeper.

It is now understood that the search has been narrowed down to two midfielders, one of whom is led to be 28-year-old former English underage international George Thorne who has had spells at West Brom, Portsmouth, Derby County and Watford where he was a team-mate of current Dundalk player Sean Murray.

The article as it appeared in The Argus on March 9th 2021

Thorne has been a free agent since leaving Oxford Utd by mutual consent last August where he made just seven appearances due to a number of injury problems. He is not the sole option, however, as Dundalk look to strengthen in the middle of the field with Central African Republic international Wilfried Zahibo, who has previously played in La Liga for Valencia top of the priority list at present.

The 27-year-old has most recently played in the MLS where he was an MLS All Star for New England Revolution in 2018 and would be a serious coup for Dundalk if they could sign him.

With only Alessio Abibi and Peter Cherrie on the books from a goalkeeping perspective right now, a third option between the sticks is also high on the agenda but following Ryan O’Kane’s emergence in pre-season it is understood the club have parked plans to add another winger.

Dundalk had been hopeful of signing South Korean Han Eui-gwon over the winter but this move was scuppered by work permit issues and while the club were happy to continue fighting for his signature the player ended hopes of a move last week when he signed for K-League 2 side Seoul E-Land.

The club could also hand a trial to Irish U-19 international centre back Tom Gaston. The 20-year-old French born defender came through the ranks at his home town club Bordeaux without making a first-team appearance before spending time at the Portland Timbers in America last year.

He has played four matches at underage level for Ireland under Jim Crawford in recent years with Ireland winning all of them without conceding. Among the high-profile team-mates he would have played with include Adam Idah, Jason Knight, Aaron Connolly and Will Smallbone.

While he was born and grew up in France, he is eligible to play for Ireland through is Dublin-born mother.

Meanwhile, former chairman and current club ambassador Padraig McGowan is set for a new role at Oriel Park as he is set to take over as club secretary.