Manager predicts success for All Whites defender ‘but we won’t be his last club’

Sligo Rovers manager John Russell has hinted All Whites defender Nando Pijnaker could be nearing a move from the League of Ireland club.

Acknowledging there had been interest in Pijnaker from other clubs, Russell told The Irish Sun:

“There was interest.

“He’s an international footballer and I thought he was excellent for the first half of last year and then it was difficult from the mid-season point onwards when we had to sell Max (Mata) and Luke (McNicholas).

“We had a lot of injuries, so it was probably tough on Nando in that period but I think he’ll have a successful career and I’m sure Sligo won’t be his last club.”

Main photo: Nando Pijnaker … joined Sligo Rovers from Portugese club Rio Ave in 2022.

Pijnaker (24) and Sligo Rovers have started their new League of Ireland season and the next transfer window will open in the northern summer.

Fellow All White Mata (23) is back with Rovers, on a short-term loan from English League One club Shrewsbury Town who paid an undisclosed free for his transfer from Rovers in August 2023.

Teammate McNicholas was also sold to Wrexham.

At the time, media reports suggested Pijnaker might also have joined Shrewsbury.

READ MORE: All Whites striker Max Mata returns to Ireland in search of more game time >>>>

READ MORE: All Whites Max Mata and Nando Pijnaker linked with move to English club >>>>

Netherlands-born Pijnaker emigrated with his family to Rotorua and made his senior debut, at 15, for Bay of Plenty side Ngongotaha after playing for the local Western Heights High School.

He moved to Wellington to join Olé Football Academy and coach Declan Edge, turning out for Western Suburbs in the Central League.

In 2018, he joined Auckland club Eastern Suburbs and was part of its ISPS Handa Premiership side that qualified for the OFC Champions League.

Since then, he’s played for Swedish club Torslanda IK, Swiss outfit Grasshopper and moved to Portugese side Rio Ave in August 2020. in 2021, he was loaned to Danish side FC Helsingør.

He joined Sligo Rovers in 2022.

READ MORE: Portugese club agrees transfer deal for All Whites defender Nando Pijnaker >>>>

Other New Zealand footballers to play for Sligo Rovers have included Auckland City’s Ryan de Vries and former All Whites coach Kevin Fallon.

All Whites’ next match

New Zealand are scheduled to play Egypt on Friday March 22 (local time) at Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

The game is part of the inaugural W Cup and the winner will play the winner of a match between Tunisia and Croatia in the tournament final on March 26.

The losing teams from the opening games will play off for third place on March 25.

READ MORE: All Whites draw Mo Salah’s Egypt in opening game at W Cup in March >>>>

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