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Taty Castellanos not going to Europe

January transfer window closes, offers from Argentina and Brazil still on the table

MLS: New York City FC-MLS Cup Championship Celebration
As the Clash once put it, ¿Me debo ir o quedarme?
John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Despite rumored interest from a number of European clubs, star striker Taty Castellanos will remain with New York City FC—for now.

The January transfer window for the major European leagues closed today without a deal in place for the Golden Boot winner. West Ham United reportedly made multiple offers for Castellanos, but didn’t meet the asking price of $15 to $20 million. Juventus, Fiorentina, Everton, and Newcastle United were also linked to the striker. You can read about all about these and other signings and trades in the NYCFC Transfer Tracker.

The 23-year-old Castellanos was widely expected to make a move after a breakout season with NYCFC. Just last week, Tom Bogert wrote on MLSsoccer.com many “assumed that Castellanos would depart NYCFC this winter.” The Argentine led MLS in goals scored—and fouls committed. He was a key component in NYCFC’s run to the title, scoring in all four of the postseason games in which he played, and his tireless work rate made him one of the most lethal players in the league.

Still, that didn’t translate into a move to a European club.

Tweeting clues

While NYCFC’s front office didn’t leak any news about potential trades, the striker posted an enigmatic tweet on January 17. It echoed a tweet posted the day before by former NYCFC player Jesús Medina anticipating his own successful move to CSKA Moscow.

On January 27, Castellanos quote-tweeted a tweet from August 6, 2020, that retold the anecdote of Johan Cruyff, then the manager of FC Barcelona, agreeing to let star player Romario go to carnival in Brazil only if he scored two goals. Cruyff is reported to have said, “I had no choice and I kept the promise.”

Castellanos added “Once upon a time when promises were kept in football...”

What do the tweets mean? One can only speculate.

The January 17 tweet might have meant that time was running out for a transfer. Or it could have meant that an announcement was going to be made, it was just a matter of time. Or that Castellanos likes playing Boggle. We welcome the Hudson River Blue community to weigh and post comments below.

The January 27 tweet is more pointed, if no less elusive. Why dig up the 18-month-old tweet and add the comment? Seemingly, a promise was made but not kept. Who or what made that promise? What was the promise? Hard to say. Did NYCFC walk back an agreement? Did another club? Was it an agent, manager, or sporting director? Those who know aren't talking.

The MLS-to-Europe pipeline

By some measures, this has been the most important mid-season European transfer window for MLS players. From FC Dallas striker Ricardo Pepi signing for Bundesliga’s side Augsburg FC for $20 million, to Atlanta United’s Kevin Paredes going to Wolfsburg FC for $7.5 million, to New England Revolution’s Matt Turner agreeing to a $6 million summer move to Arsenal, it seems that European clubs are now looking at MLS to find emerging talent.

It was thought that Castellanos would join those players, and that he would command a fee in the range of $15 to $20 million.

Notably, the Twitter feed of Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano, arguably the world’s single most important and accurate source of news about major transfers and trades, has been silent on the subject of Castellanos.

Transfer window still open in Argentina, Brazil

Castellanos is currently training with NYCFC in Florida, but he could still complete a trade to join a club in Argentina, where the transfer window closes February 23, or Brazil, where the transfer window closes April 12.

In fact, Castellanos is being linked to Club Atlético River Plate in Argentina, and Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras and Sport Club Internacional in Brazil.

River Plate is flush with the reported $19 million transfer fee gained by selling Julián Álvarez to Manchester City—and will need to replace the 20 league goals he scored last season. Palmeiras has long expressed interest in Castellanos, and approached NYCFC as early as January 2021—well before the striker attracted interest from other clubs. More recently, NYCFC rejected a reported $12.5 million offer from Palmeiras. Earlier today ESPN reported that Brazilian side Internacional, which recently sold Yuri Alberto to Zenit St. Petersburg for $22 million, is about to make an offer for Castellanos.

River Plate, Palmeiras, and Internacional are some of the biggest clubs outside of Europe, with the deep pockets that can meet NYCFC’s asking price.

While Castellanos isn’t going to Europe this winter, he might still depart NYCFC.