Oxford United’s highly-rated central defender Stephan Negru has signed a new deal with the club just eight months after joining from Shelbourne in Ireland, it has been officially announced.
The centre-back came through Shelbourne’s youth academy under the former Fulham, Blackburn Rovers, and Chelsea winger Damien Duff at Tolka Park in August 2022 and quickly became a mainstay in the first-team with the Reds as the Irish giants reached the FAI Cup final back in November.
Negru’s talents were spotted by former Oxford United boss Karl Robinson who brought the Moldovan over to the Kassam Stadium in January of this year but it wasn’t until April that the then-20-year-old made his debut with the U’s.
Jordan Thorniley started at the back under Liam Manning at the start of this season but picked up an injury in a 5-1 defeat to Bristol City in the EFL Cup and has been replaced by Negru in the starting lineup ever since.
Manning’s side have been in tremendous form and were even sitting pretty at the top of the League One table after five games, following four straight victories. Negru has played a massive role in the team’s excellent string of results.
The 21-year-old has been rewarded for his wonderful performances with a new contract and couldn’t be happier to do so. Speaking to club media, Negru said:
“It was an easy decision. I love being at the club, they have been great with me.
“It was a big step to come over from Ireland but the club have made me feel so at home, the fans have been brilliant and I definitely want to be part of what the Gaffer is building here.”
Head coach Manning also professed his delight that the young centre-half has put pen to paper on a new deal:
“We talk about depth of squad and people being ready when called upon. Stephan is a fantastic example of that.
“He had to be a little bit patient but he has seized his opportunity and has so much potential. He wants to learn and pushes himself to be better but along with that work ethic, he is also a terrific competitor. It’s great news to see him commit his future to the club.”
Negru has everything to make it in England’s third-tier and even at a higher level so it’s no surprise that Oxford United have tied him down to a new contract early into his spell.
It was obvious from his time at Shelbourne just how talented the Moldovan defender is and it’s certainly not surprising that he has been one of the best centre-backs in League One already this season.