New York City FC might be closing in on a second significant acquisition in the summer transfer window.
Norwegian journalist Stian André de Wahl first reported that Risa was a target of NYCFC’s back in April, though no agreement was reached in the spring to bring Risa to New York City.
NYCFC reportedly reignited their interest this summer and now, according to Wahl’s reporting for Nettavisen, a deal for Risa is all but done. Molde is expected to receive “over 10 million Norwegian Krone” to part with the player, which would mean a transfer priced around $1 million for the Nordic center back.
The Risa news comes one day after NYCFC confirmed the signing of Algerian striker Mounsef Bakrar, with sporting director David Lee appearing to be on the verge of addressing both of his club’s most glaring roster needs—striker and left-footed center back—relatively early in the MLS Secondary Transfer Window.
Risa made his professional debut in the German Bundesliga with FC Köln back in 2017 when he was 19 years old, but has mostly plied his trade in Norway’s Eliteserien, first with Odds BK and most recently with Molde. Risa enjoyed a big 2022 season with Molde, starting 26 of 30 matches and helping guide the team to an Eliteserien title.
The player is set to be out of contract at the end of 2023, so Molde risk losing Risa for nothing come January if he’s not sold prior to his contract expiring.
If Risa does end up joining NYCFC, the club will hope it has finally found a natural replacement for the departed Alexander Callens. Center back has been something of a revolving door for NYCFC, as while Maxime Chanot and Thiago Martins have been the stalwart pairing, each has missed many matches due to international call-up, suspensions, and injury.
James Sands, Justin Haak, Tayvon Gray, and Tony Alfaro have all spent time playing CB, but the only clear-cut central defender of that group, Alfaro, was just traded to the LA Galaxy for up to $500,000 in allocation money.
Risa looks to fit the bill as a Callens replacement given his left-footedness, and his proclivity for making progressive passes and carries out of central defense. When looking at his scouting report on FBref.com, Risa ranks above the 90th percentile for progressive carries and progressive passes when compared to other center backs who play in what FBref deems the “Men’s Next 8 competitions,” meaning leagues like MLS, the Dutch Eredivsie, Mexico’s Liga MX, and Brazil’s Série A, among others.