Portuguese midfielder Ruben Rodrigues has signed for League One side Oxford United, after confirming his exit from League Two side Notts County, but it has left some supporters confused with the players destination.
Rodrigues was linked with several EFL sides in the post-season already, including Championship side Cardiff City and League One duo Derby County and Peterborough United, but instead he opted for Liam Manning’s Oxford United side.
However, despite the confusion, I do believe that there are perfectly valid reasons to explain his move to Oxford and I strongly believe it’s a great move for the player.
During the 2022/23 season, Rodrigues made 45 appearances for Notts County last season, scoring 19 goals and assisting a further 15. He also scored in the play-off final against Chesterfield, which Notts later won on penalties.
Meanwhile, Oxford United had a disappointing 2022/23 season, finishing down in 19th place. The club lost 21 of their 46 league games, only surviving on the final day of the League One season and also parted ways with Karl Robinson last season.
The football club are now managed by Liam Manning, a manager who had a very successful 2021/22 season with MK Dons, taking them to within a whisker of the Championship play-off final, which also saw him develop several exciting players.
Manning’s men drew five of their last ten league games, winning an additional two games and averaging 1.1 points per game. However, they picked up seven points from their final five games, which was one of the best returns in the bottom half .
With that being said, let’s take a look at the reasons why I think Rodrigues has chosen Oxford United…
Rodrigues is 26-years-old and will want to play as often as he can, especially after the superb run of form that he had at Notts County. He contributed to over 90 goals in 127 games and arguably was the National League’s player of the season last season.
Derby County were heavily linked, but they are also comfortably stacked in that position, which would have limited the amount of game-time that he’d have. However, Rodrigues is likely to play much more at Oxford United last season.
The Scott Twine effect
This may sound bizarre but Scott Twine’s work under Liam Manning at MK Dons is likely to be a contributing factor to Rodrigues opting to sign for Oxford United. Twine linked up with Manning, in the 2021/22 season, and in 45 league games, he’s scored 20 goals and assisted a further 13.
Following that season, Twine completed a £4million switch to Championship champions Burnley, but was affected by injuries. However, he is now a Premier League footballer and that rise is likely to be admired by Ruben Rodrigues.
This is purely speculation but one reason that Rodrigues could have selected a move to Oxford United, is because of a hidden release clause. This clause could be a ‘ticket to the Championship’, in which Rodrigues has a release clause if a Championship side, was to submit a bid for the midfielder next window or beyond.
Again, this is purely speculation from myself but it could explain why 20th placed Oxford were selected over top-half League One sides. Also, most transfers do come with hidden/smaller add-ons, which admittedly could have also been a factor in the Portuguese’s decision making.
Admittedly, the 2022/23 League One campaign was extremely disappointing for Oxford United and they very nearly suffered relegation to League Two. However, statistically the club still performed well, bolstering a low goals conceded rating and averaged a high amount of shots per game.
This suggests that Oxford United were a goalscorer away from having a successful campaign, but were instead wasteful at the vital period of matches last season. Rodrigues would comfortably slot into their midfield, alongside the likes of Cameron Brannagan or as a number ten, supporting whichever striker the club signs during this transfer window.
What are your thoughts on Ruben Rodrigues’ move to Oxford United?