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Report: Alex Callens to Girona FC?

The center back was arguably NYCFC’s best player in 2022, and it looks like he’s headed to la Liga on a free transfer

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Callens not only was beast in defense, he scored key goals in important games.
Photograph by Katie Cahalin, courtesy NYCFC.com

UPDATE: Alex Callens officially joined Girona FC on January 23, 2023. You can read the full story here.

It looks like Alex Callens will be locking down the back line of Girona FC in la Liga.

In his piece for the Athletic, Felipe Cardenas wrote that “Callens will sign a two-and-a-half-year contract with Girona, according to a source with direct knowledge of the negotiations.”

That adds a specific detail to an article by Alex Luna published earlier today in Mundo Deportivo, the largest and oldest sports publication in Spain, the center back “has reached an agreement with Girona” to join the club. He is expected to fly to Spain this week to complete a physical and finalize the deal.

Callens was out of contract with New York City FC as of December 31, 2022, and was thought to seek a salary higher than the $814,000 he earned in guaranteed compensation last year. Even though Callens was arguably the best player on the squad last year – even possibly the best center back in MLS – he made substantially less than teammate Thiago Martins, a center back who joined NYCFC on a Designated Player contract at the start of the season and whose guaranteed salary was close to $2 million.

Callens was rumored to be negotiating with NYCFC and other MLS clubs, but league rules limited what a team could offer unless he was given a Designated Player contract.

More recently, Callens was linked to Boca Juniors in Argentina. But that potential deal seems to have been sidelined as the 30-year-old looks to make a move to Spain. According to Luna’s article in Mundo Deportivo, injuries have depleted Girona’s defense, and sporting director Quique Cárcel views Callens as a way to guarantee that the newly-promoted club stay in la Liga. Girona are currently in 11th place on the 20-team table, with 21 points after 17 matches.

Callens could join former NYCFC teammate Taty Castellanos, who is currently on loan to Girona — or the two could pass each other like ships in the night, as Castellanos is currently being linked to Brighton & Hove Albion in the English Premier League.

Both NYCFC and Girona are owned by City Football Group, and while they operate independently and are beholden to the rules and regulations of their respective leagues, it does make one wonder if there are some interfamilial negotiations going on in that Slack channel.

Girona are understood to be against Castellanos moving to Brighton, but the transfer could mean a potential payout for NYCFC, and an opportunity for the striker to play in the most competitive league in the world. Callens is no longer under contract with NYCFC, but his arrival in Girona could soften the blow of losing Castellanos while helping ensure that the club avoid a relegation battle that might see them drop out of la Liga.

Note: This article was originally published on January 18, 2023 at at 12:40 PM ET, and updated on January 18, 2023 at 4 PM ET