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Alexandru Mitriță officially loaned to Al-Raed FC through June 2023

The saga ain’t over yet: The talented but mercurial winger remains on NYCFC’s books, and will be the club’s problem once again next year

Mitriță played for Saudi club Al-Ahli until 2021.
Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images

Late last Saturday night, New York City FC issued a brief statement that announced Alexandru Mitriță is on loan to Saudi club Al-Raed FC through June 2023. The statement confirms earlier rumors linking the club and the former Romanian international.

The announcement was issued about midway through the second half of NYCFC’s 0-0 draw with CF Montréal, and if the press release escaped the notice of most fans that might be by design. The signing of Mitriță is one of the rare missteps for New York City, and arguably the single greatest transfer mistake made by the club. You don't exactly want to draw attention to your organization’s crisis management skills.

What makes the Mitriță saga even more painful is that it continues to linger: It looks like will need to be addressed again around this time next year after the loan is completed. The $1.15 million guaranteed salary he will make in 2022 might go up in 2023, and it will still on NYCFC’s books.

When Mitriță was signed in February 2019 to a “multi-year contract” the club didn’t specify the length of the deal. Given that this loan will carry through June 2023, it seems that Mitriță was signed to a five-year deal at minimum. That means sporting director David Lee has ten months to find another home for the talented if mercurial winger that no club wants to keep.

Mitriță fell out of favor at NYCFC under former head coach Ronny Deila, and was loaned to Al-Ahli Saudi FC in Saudi Arabia at the end of the 2020 season. The official reason was that Mitriță wanted to be closer to his family back home, but word is he was a divisive and unpopular figure in the clubhouse.

He gained a similar reputation when he was loaned to Greek side PAOK. This past June, PAOK manager Răzvan Lucescu discussed Mitriță in an interview and said that the winger 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.”

If Mitriță continues to use just 10% of his footballing talent he will likely be NYCFC’s problem once again after the season in Saudi Arabia ends.