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Mounsef Bakrar officially joins NYCFC

The signing of the 22-year-old Algerian forward is official — he joins from NK Istra in Croatia on a long-term contract.

Hope he has lots to smile about in New York City |

New York City FC have a new striker.

The club have officially announced the signing of 22-year-old Algerian forward Mounsef Bakrar, who joins from NK Istra in Croatia under the MLS U22 initiative.

This confirms earlier reports that sprung up in Croatia linking Bakrar with a move to NYCFC, and brings to an end an agonizing season-long wait for a new striker to arrive in New York.

The transfer fee NYCFC paid wasn’t disclosed in the official announcement, but initial Croatian reports indicated a $2 million price to sign Bakrar. Another Croatian club, Dinamo Zagreb, had reportedly been on the verge of bringing Bakrar in on loan, but that move fell apart and NYCFC’s bid won out. Bakrar is signing a contract that runs through the 2026 season with an option year in 2027.

Bakrar scored eight goals and tallied three assists in his first and only season with NK Istra in Croatia’s top division, and has made six appearances for Algeria’s U23 youth national team, scoring one goal for his country.

While not a big-name, prolific, proven goal scorer, Bakrar is still a significant addition made by NYCFC sporting director David Lee early in the MLS Secondary Transfer Window. It’s approaching the one-year anniversary of Taty Castellanos leaving NYCFC for Girona FC, a period which has also included the trade of Héber to Seattle Sounders. The NYCFC need at striker has gotten more and more glaring as the team’s disappointing 2023 season has gone on.

Talles Magno has not found success as NYCFC’s primary No 9, Gabe Segal has scored a few clutch goals but has been primarily used as a super-sub, and relying on players like Santiago Rodríguez or Richy Ledezma to function as False 9s has been ineffective.

The highlight compilations you’ll find of Mounsef Bakrar contain flashes of the exact attributes NYCFC have been missing from the players who they’ve turned to this season to fill the No 9 role. Bakrar looks eager to make runs in behind central defenders, shows a willingness to link up with his attacking teammates in and around the 18-yard-box, and can finish off goals both routine and extraordinary.

That he fits in the U22 initiative slot NYCFC had to work with and is coming off a decent season in Croatia’s Hrvatska NL league makes Bakrar an intriguing, if untested, player that might have the potential to make an immediate impact with NYCFC.

The chances to score goals have been there for Nick Cushing’s team, and perhaps Mounsef Bakrar will be just the right person to start scoring them once he receives his necessary clearances and visas and arrives at NYCFC.