At long last, we have an answer to perhaps the most interesting transfer saga that Orlando City has been involved in. It was announced on Thursday afternoon that the EFL Board rejected Blackburn Rovers’ appeal of a ruling that saw Duncan McGuire’s loan move not approved due to the necessary paperwork not being submitted on time. That means that McGuire will not be moving on loan to Rovers, and instead will be rejoining Orlando City’s preseason training, and the club put out a statement welcoming him back into the fold.
Now that the dust has finally settled from a thoroughly strange situation, I think its fair to say that the situation has been resolved in a way that is the most beneficial for everyone involved. Well, except for Blackburn, but this ain’t a Blackburn Rovers site, now is it?
Let’s start with what it means for the club. Amid five-alarm-fire levels of smoke surrounding OCSC signing Luis Muriel from Atalanta, the Lions are suddenly looking pretty strong at the striker position. Orlando will soon have Muriel, McGuire, Ramiro Enrique, and potentially Jack Lynn to call upon. Competition breeds excellence, and there should be an interesting battle between McGuire and Muriel when it comes to who wins the starting job.
Regardless, there should still be plenty of games to go around. Orlando will have a busy schedule to start the season and all hands will be needed on deck as the games fly thick and fast. Muriel, McGuire, and Enrique, should all see time on the field, but now that McGuire is back, Orlando knows it has a proven MLS goal scorer who should take the pressure off Muriel to hit the ground running. That matters quite a bit, as even though the Colombian is an experienced veteran, MLS can sometimes take a bit of adjusting to. In the space of about a week, the Lions went from being worryingly threadbare up top, to being well-stocked — at least until the summer.
I do feel for Duncan, though. It can’t have been easy having one’s future played out in such a public arena, and he’s been put through an absolute wringer for the last week. It’s a shame that he didn’t get the move that he obviously wanted rather badly, but in the end, I think it’s worked out in the best possible way for him.
It came down to McGuire moving to either Blackburn, which is currently 18th, five points off the relegation zone, and hasn’t won a league game since Dec. 12, or Sheffield Wednesday, which sits 23rd with 23 points, and has scored just 22 goals in 30 games. Neither situation seems likely to be a great environment in order to progress one’s future.
Aside from spiraling on the field, Blackburn is also in some turmoil off it, as a lack of finances were what led to a permanent transfer turning into a loan deal in the first place. Then you have Sheffield, without a league win since Jan. 1 and in real danger of being relegated. Both teams certainly could use goals, but there was no guarantee of effortlessly assimilating into a difficult, physical league in a foreign country.
Instead, Duncan will be back in surroundings that he’s familiar with and has already shown he can thrive in. All due respect to Mauricio Pereyra, but he’ll have a theoretically upgraded supporting cast with the arrival of Nicolas Lodeiro, and he’ll be playing on a team that figures to be one of the better ones in the league. That should be a pretty favorable set of circumstances to keep up his goal-scoring ways, especially when he can learn behind someone like Muriel, who has been able to knock in goals in the defensively stingy setting of Serie A.
There will be the obvious and understandable disappointment of his overseas move collapsing, but as long as he can refocus and keep his head on straight, this cloud should have plenty of silver lining. Despite things not working out as anticipated, there should be plenty of motivation that if he’s able to turn in a similar performance to what we saw in 2023, then bigger clubs than Blackburn and Sheffield will almost certainly come calling. Combine that with the fact that he’s likely to be on the world stage at this summer’s Olympic games, and he has a great chance to earn himself a more favorable move than joining a relegation fighter in the Championship.
In short, Orlando gets a proven scorer, rounds out its striker depth, and has a chance to sell McGuire for even more money than it initially thought it would get, while Dunc gets to play on a contender in a familiar environment, and potentially earn an even bigger move along the way. We didn’t get here the way probably anyone thought we would, but it’s all worked out pretty well in the end.