Alexandru Mitriță is looking to return to New York City FC until his contract runs out at the end of this season, according to an article published yesterday in the Romanian publication Digi Sport. The 27-year-old was on loan at Greek side PAOK, where he scored one goal in 24 appearances, but the club decided not to exercise the option to sign him permanently. Digi Sport reports that Romanian clubs are interested in Mitriță, but he prefers to return to New York City.
NYCFC signed the left winger to a Designated Player contract in February 2019 to replace David Villa, and while he scored 12 goals that season he never lived up to the expectations placed on him. Mitriță fell out of favor under former head coach Ronny Deila, and was loaned to Al-Ahli Saudi FC in Saudi Arabia at the end of the 2020 season. Ostensibly, the former Romanian international went to be closer to his family back home, but there were whispers that he was a divisive and unpopular figure in the clubhouse.
After Mitriță’s departure, Taty Castellanos became the sharp point of NYCFC’s attack as he went on to win the Golden Boot and the team went on to win the MLS Cup. For some, it’s not coincidental that NYCFC enjoyed the best year in club history once Mitriță left.
It’s hard to see how Mitriță could fit into this NYCFC squad. Mitriță prefers to play on the left, which means he would be competing for playing time with the far more technical and physical Talles Magno. More importantly, Mitriță’s style of play doesn't mesh with NYCFC’s hard-running squad: While Mitriță was mostly disinterested in defending, Castellanos, Talles Magno, Santiago Rodríguez, Gabriel Pereira, and other attackers all track back when necessary.
He earned a similar reputation at PAOK. Last month, PAOK manager Răzvan Lucescu discussed Mitriță’s in an interview and said that Mitriță is decisive with the ball but gives up too easily. “If he had a fighting mentality, and understood that football at a high level means sacrifice from all points of view, sacrifice in the game when you have the ball, sacrifice to recover it, sacrifice for the group,” then he could have played at the level of a top team in the English Premier League. “I don’t want to go into too much discussion and analysis,” said Lucescu. “I can only say one thing, he has an incredible talent but uses just 10% of it.”
Romanian clubs are reportedly interested in signing Mitriță, but he “is not at all happy with the idea of returning” to the league according to Digi Sport. His contract with NYCFC runs through the end of the 2022 MLS season.
Mitriță has a guaranteed salary of $1.15 million in 2022, which is good for fourth-highest on the team after Thiago Martins, Maxi Moralez, and Talles Magno — Taty Castellanos is close behind, with a guaranteed salary of $1.08 million. How much of Mitriță’s salary was covered by PAOK hasn't been made public.