2nd September 2022
Author: Emma Jones
With the transfer window drawing to a close, we finally can have a look at what the first Red Bull London squad looks like. With the team having won their first 11 games, it seems safe to say that the famed recruitment of the Red Bull franchise has produced excellent results for the fledging team. Let's have a rundown of the main squad and what we expect to see from them this season:
(GK): Standing at an imposing 6'6", Frelih joins the Bulls as an unknown quantity. Having left a successful Gil Vicente team due to personal problems last year, questions were raised over his free transfer to the club. However, manager Joe Cole's faith in him has been repaid with a league-leading 5 clean sheets in the first nine games, as he makes his case as one of the league's best keepers.
(GK): A mainstay of many Championship teams over the past decade, Westwood found himself without a club for the first time since his move to Sheffield Wednesday, where he made nearly 200 league appearances. At age 37, he provides an experienced voice to the dressing room and a reliable pair of gloves if needs be.
(CB): An icon of Premier League football, Cahill left the Premier League with a glittering CV, having won every club trophy under the sun. He was part of a promotion-winning Bournemouth team last season but found himself released following the conclusion of the campaign. RB London duly pounced, and Cahill now leads the flying side as their first-ever captain.
(CB): It was a shock to see Worall leave Nottingham Forest after 168 league appearances, including captaining the side in their Playoff Final victory last year. However, the 25-year-old found himself out of favour and was snapped up by Red Bull London for £4.3 million. Tall, strong and a vocal leader, his presence at centre-back has helped anchor a steady RB London defence through the early part of the season.
(CB): Capable of playing at either right back or centre back, Ie has embarked on a journeyman career ever since his graduation from La Masia in 2015. Having just left Turkish title winners Trabzonspor after a spate of injuries, he has played in all 9 of RB London's games, making the fourth-most interceptions in the league. Ie provides excellent versatility to manager Joe Cole's lineup as a starter as well as off the bench.
(CB): Despite coming off of a knee ligament injury with Kasimpasa in Turkey, Spajic possesses an impressive CV, with four years in Ligue 1 and a Belgian title to go along with 20 caps for Serbia. Despite starting the season as a rotation option, Spajic has played his way into a starting spot for Joe Cole's team. As an aggressive defender averaging around 2.25 dribbles per 90, Spajic provides a unique option to the RB London backline.
(CB): On loan from AC Milan, Thiaw has been touted as the successor to Jurgen Kohler in the German media, and has made regular appearances for Germany's U21 sides. Tall, but comfortable with the ball, Thiaw will be looking to build on promotion to the Bundesliga with Schalke last season and make a name for himself at the San Siro.
(RB): Returning to England for the first time since his loan at Hull City, Elabdellaoui has had a long road back following a freak accident in 2020 which injured his eyes. However, the defender has looked comfortable on his return to English football, sitting fourth in tackles per 90. Cole will be hoping to recapture the form that saw Elabdellaoui captain Olympiacos to the Greek Super League just a few years ago.
(RB): A versatile right-back able to contribute effectively in both halves, Kwateng suffered relegation with Bordeaux last season and was signed by Red Bull London on a free. While his defensive prowess has been solid, 4 assists in 4 starts have solidified him as a dangerous attacking option for the Bulls down the right flank.
(LB): Released following Girona's promotion to La Liga, Junca has spent his entire career playing in the top two tiers of Spain, before making his first move abroad to England aged 28. Despite missing the first month of the campaign with an ankle sprain, Junca's creative prowess suggests an optimistic outlook for the left-back position in the RB London lineup.
(LB): Despite being just 19, Aude has enjoyed a solid start to his time in Europe, filling in for the injured Junca. RB London were keen to pick up the talented wing-back and did so for just £3 million. Highly driven and remarkably well-rounded, Aude shows the propensity to play well across the defence and midfield. With the proper development, he is one to look out for in the RB London squad.
(DM): Coming off of relegation with Levante, Rajoda enjoyed 7 seasons of La Liga football with Celta Vigo and Levante, but publicly stated his desire to play in the Premier League. So far, the 29-year-old has been one of the best players in the competition in his limited appearances and looks set to fulfilling that Premier League dream by the end of the season.
(DM): Like many other members of the squad, Bradaric was released following a relegation, this time with Al-Ahli in Saudi Arabia. However, despite having rarely played football outside his native Croatia, Bradaric seems to have the trust of Joe Cole, as he has played all 9 Championship matches so far. A creative midfielder with a strong engine, Bradaric's unique physical profile poses a challenge for defenders and allows the other midfielders breathing room in the RB London system.
Mohamed Ali Ben Romdhane
(MC): Dubbed “The Tunisian Pogba”, Romdhane has been one of the most entertaining players in the last month, displaying his immense technique and his ferocious long shot. Plucked from ES Tunis for £3.9 million, Romdhane has been one of the revelations of the season and looks set to enjoy a successful year in the heart of the RB London midfield.
(MC): Descended from a line of international footballers, Galdames broke into the Chilean squad at just 19, before successive moves to Velez and Genoa. However, following the Italian club's relegation, Galdames made the move to London for £1.5 million. He has rewarded his manager with three assists off the bench, as his energy gives RB London a late boost from midfield.
(MC): One of two deadline-day loans for Joe Cole, Chukwuemeka made headlines for his £15 million pound move from Aston Villa to Chelsea. Having already made 14 Premier League appearances, Chukwuemeka will be looking to enjoy a strong loan season to stake his claim in the Chelsea team.
(MC): The centrepiece of the RB London midfield, Onomah's incredible performances have won him the Championship Player of the Month for August, tallying 3 goals and 5 assists in just 8 games. First breaking on to the scene with Tottenham, he eventually joined Fulham, winning the Championship title with them last season. RB London brought him in for just £4.7 million, which looks like an absolute bargain at the moment.
(AMR): Despite being relegated from the Premier League last season with Norwich, Joe Cole prioritized the arrival of Kieran Dowell as early as he could, joining for £3.2 million. While not the quickest winger around, Dowell's incredible close control and set-piece mastery have made him a threat for defences across the league. With 4 goals and 5 assists in 9 games, including a beautiful free-kick against Blackburn, Dowell is one of the keys cogs in the RB London machine.
(AMR): The signing of Dennis Man goes down as one of Joe Cole's most shrewd pieces of business. Having signed for Parma for £11.5 million two years ago, RB London were able to prise him away from the Serie B outfit for just £1.1 million. Man offers a burst of physicality through his rapid pace and six-foot frame. While his start in the Championship has been slow, his potential, as well as his low price tag, make this deal a bargain for the Bulls.
(AML): The final permanent signing made by Joe Cole this transfer window, Rusnak joined for £2.2 million, bringing to a close a successful career in the MLS. Having come through the ranks at Manchester City, Rusnak made a name for himself as an all-around attacking threat, able to contribute goals and assists with equal ease. Cole will be hoping to see the best of the 28-year-old come through under his management
(AML): Sarmiento was one of the brightest prospects on the South Coast last season, winning Brighton's Young Player of the Year. He's made an immediate impact in London as well, with 5 goals in 7 games to set the league ablaze. Sarmiento stands a good chance of being one of the best players in the Championship this season.
(ST): Having enjoyed a near-20 year career in the game, Tardelli brings with him the experience of a 2-time Copa Libertadores winner and 14 caps for Brazil. Despite being 37, he has been an excellent impact sub, scoring winning goals of the bench twice so far. Tardelli's experience and guile is a great asset to have on a winning team.
(ST): The other deadline day loan for RB London, Carvalho enjoyed a successful season with Fulham's title-winning team last year, earning a move to Liverpool in the summer. Cole will be looking to bring out another great season from the young talent, using his skill and versatility to excellent effect.
Nicolas de Preville
(ST): A journeyman winger, de Preville has found a new life as the leading man for the RB London attack. With 6 goals in 8 games, including a first-half hattrick against Bristol City, de Preville has looked lethal since his free transfer to the Bulls. Having already eclipsed his mark for Metz last season, Cole will be hoping to see the best of de Preville in the Championship this season.
For a total sum of just £25 million, Cole and his staff have managed to put together a team that currently sits unbeaten atop the Championship. If no one was taking RB London seriously, they have no choice now.