Despite efforts to keep the Socceroo, EFL Championship side Birmingham City have seen Riley McGree play his last game for the Blues.
As expected, Riley McGree has departed Championship side Birmingham City and is now headed stateside to Major League Soccer. The Socceroo leaves the Blues after a 14 month loan spell from Charlotte FC.
Riley McGree Club Situation
- The Socceroo signed with MLS club Charlotte FC in October 5, 2020.
- Charlotte FC loaned McGree to Birmingham City the next month.
- Birmingham were keen to keep McGree whose loan deal ended January 1, 2022.
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McGree had signed with Charlotte FC after the 2019-20 A-League season. However, while the MLS club had been created as an expansion franchise, it would not take to the field for another year and a half.
The Socceroo was therefore loaned to Birmingham City in what was supposed to be a season-long loan, but was extended an additional half a season at the request of the Blues. City head coach Lee Bowyer then tried to secure a permanent transfer for McGree to no avail.
Blues can confirm that @McgreeRiley has returned to Charlotte FC following the expiration of his loan agreement.— Birmingham City FC (@BCFC) December 30, 2021
Speaking to the Birmingham Mail earlier this month Bowyer said:
“All I can tell you is what I have said before, Craig has been banging that drum, trying to make that happen – that Riley stays.
“I know Riley loves it here, he loves training, you see him every day with a smile on his face, he is learning every day and improving as a player.
“I believe he wants to stay, Craig is banging that drum but I think the contract is the contract. I don’t think there’s any way of turning that around.
“He is going out to America and he is one of their big name players from what I understand and I can’t see them changing their mind over there.
“They are watching from there, seeing how well he is doing and like ‘OK, can’t wait for him to be here’. We would be the same wouldn’t we?
"If we had a player playing somewhere we would be like ‘We are going to get him back in three weeks, four weeks – quickly hurry up, hopefully don’t get injured’.
“Then they have got him ready to go as well. He’s ready, he’s fit, he’s flying.”
In total the Socceroo made 30 appearances, getting two assists and netting three goals during his time with the Championship club. He became a fan favourite for his creative play at the Blues.
After the return to Charlotte FC was finalized, McGree took to Instagram to thank Birmingham City FC and it's fans by posting a simple message:
"Loved every moment in this shirt, thanks for the memories blues. 💙 #kro"
The 2022 MLS schedule is set to kick off on the last weekend of February. Charlotte FC and McGree will make their MLS debuts away at D.C. United that day. They will play the 2022 season as a member of the Eastern Conference.
McGree is one of two Socceroos currently contracted to an MLS team, with Brad Smith currently playing for Seattle Sounders who play in the Western Conference. They are scheduled to play each other on the 29th of May 2022, at Sounder's Lumen Field.
The MLS is broadcast on BeIN Sports in Australia.