1. Not letting Valentín Castellanos go… yet
Some fans might have thought the final top move would be about New York City FC signing Thiago Andrade or Alfredo Morales. However, the final top move for the club was not a move at all. Rather, it is not letting Valentín Castellanos go to another club.
For months, rumors surrounding the Argentine would not let up. Brazilian club Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras was apparently interested in the young forward, and at first intended to sign him on loan. In addition, it was also rumored that Castellanos was interested in the move, but did not seem inclined to force such a move. Then, as everyone knows, the loan move did not materialize, and he joined NYCFC in preseason training.
Still, during preseason, new reports surfaced that Palmeiras wanted to sign Castellanos permanently, and submitted a bid. But, the 22 year old technically is the only player that can play at the striker position. With Héber due to be out from anywhere from June to August, selling Castellanos would mean that NYCFC would be without a striker/ center-forward for at least part of the season.
Therefore, it made sense that the Pigeons rejected the bid, and intend to hold onto him for now. While new signing Andrade, a natural winger, can possibly play in the striker position, there is no guarantee he can contribute right away. He is a young player with potential who might make an immediate impact. But at least NYCFC knows Castellanos is comfortable in the striker position, and can play on the wings as well once Héber returns.
Castellanos is also the leading scorer coming off the odd 2020 season, with six goals in 22 regular season games. Then, back in 2019, he had 11 goals in 30 regular season games played. Additionally, he has three goals in this year’s preseason. Right now, NYCFC could not afford to lose him because of his contributions. And not only can he score, but he is a difference maker in the attack, and is a consistent threat. He has noticeably improved in other areas too. Last season, he began to contribute more defensively where he would try to recover the ball when it was lost.
Hence, NYCFC should be able to transfer Castellanos to, in a sense, a bigger club, as long as he continues to score, and improve his quality overall. They should be able to get a good price, and maybe if the forward has a good 2021 season, then he can make the jump to a club even bigger than Palmeiras. He has the potential to find success in Europe, so there will be a point where NYCFC has to, and really should, sell him. But, they need to make sure that the striker/ center-forward position is covered, which right now is not the case.
Thankfully, the rumors of Castellanos leaving did not formulate to truth. The Pigeons still have someone they can rely on, and hopefully will not find himself struggling to score like he did in part of the 2020 season. But as seen in preseason, he has the ability to be an impactful player on the pitch. Keeping him for now was a vital decision made by New York City FC for 2021, and most importantly, they have a striker to start the season.