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Alexender Callens joins Girona FC

The center-back became who arguably the best defender in MLS – and one of the best goal-scorers for NYCFC – will join the la Liga side on a free transfer

He shoots, he scores.
Photograph courtesy NYCFC.com

It’s official: Alexander Callens will no longer play for New York City FC.

The club issued a statement a few minutes ago confirming the rumor circulating last week that Callens was going to sign with Girona FC in Spain’s la Liga, which also features former NYCFC striker Taty Castellanos. Both NYCFC and Girona are owned by City Football Group.

Callens was out of contract as of December 31, 2022, and even though it was understood that he wanted to remain with the club he couldn't come to terms with NYCFC. The defender had arguably the strongest season in his career last year, when he not only locked down the defense, but proved to be one of New York City’s most potent scoring threats with five goals in all games.

The sticking point seemed to be money. The 30-year-old center-back had a guaranteed salary of $814,000 in 2022 according to figures released by the Major League Soccer Players Association. That’s more than $1 million less than the $1,962,000 paid to defensive partner Thiago Martins, a Designated Player signed at the start of the season. MLS salary rules limited what NYCFC could pay Callens without giving him a DP contract, which would have meant that the club had to make the highly unusual decision to allocate two of their three DP spots to the defenders.

Callens was rumored to be in talks with other MLS clubs, then was linked to Boca Juniors in Argentina as recently as two weeks ago, before the rumor surfaced last week that he had agreed to terms with Girona and was traveling to Spain to complete a physical. Callens is thought to have signed a two-and-one-half-year contract that will keep him at the club through the end of the 2025-26 season.