Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has tabbed Major League Soccer star Valentin “Taty” Castellanos for a move to Europe after the forward won the 2021 MLS Cup title with New York City FC.
Guardiola said he watched NYCFC’s MLS Cup final match against the Portland Timbers and was impressed by the player, who broke onto the scene in the U.S. top-flight this past season with 19 goals and eight assists in 32 matches. It was a performance that earned him the league’s Golden Boot award.
In the Dec. 11 final, Castellanos scored the opener for NYCFC just before halftime and also converted in a victorious penalty-kick shootout.
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“I think he is a guy who will do the next step in Europe,” Guardiola told reporters. “What I saw when the scouting department talked to me, I know he’s a quality player and ready to make the next step to Europe and we will see where.”
On the MLS Cup final, Guardiola added: “We watched it in the restaurant and we couldn’t believe it. I was really impressed with the way they handled the extra time. When you concede a goal with 10 seconds left before finishing the game and being champions and have extra time you can be destroyed.
“But in extra time, wow, they were much, much better. That shows how strong these players are, and the manager. It’s a huge compliment for the organization, for New York City, because it is the first time and always the first time is special.”
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Manchester City and NYCFC are both owned by worldwide football conglomerate City Football Group and Guardiola’s words about Castellanos can only help the player’s quest to land a contract in Europe.
The 23-year-old Argentine notched the second double-digit goal tally of his young career this campaign, scoring 19 times after previously scoring 11 times in 2019.
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He’s been with NYCFC since he was a teenager, though he made his professional debut in Uruguay for Torque, now called Montevideo City Torque and also a part of City Football Group.
Castellanos signed a new five-year contract on May 13 and any move abroad will be accompanied by a transfer fee for the MLS club. He was linked to two-time defending Copa Libertadores champion and Brazilian powerhouse Palmeiras, which reportedly made a $4 million bid. After his 2021 season, the price for his services will be much higher.