Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said the 23-year-old Argentine was ready to compete in Europe. The MLS Cup 2021 champions reportedly put a $15 million price tag on the reigning Golden Boot presented by Audi winner. Links to teams like Argentina’s River Plate and Brazil’s Palmeiras unfolded in the press.
But Castellanos remained in MLS, perhaps revisiting a move abroad come the summer. If not quite a transfer saga, it comes right on the border of that designation.
So how does the man himself feel about it? Castellanos didn’t reveal much ahead of Saturday’s home opener vs. CF Montréal (1 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US, DAZN in Canada), balancing career progression with his role in head coach Ronny Deila’s squad.
“As you guys all heard, there were definitely rumors in January,” Castellanos said through a translator. "I was on the radar of a couple teams. That didn’t come to fruition so now I’m here and really just focused on the season, looking forward to the objectives and what’s at hand here. We have the Concacaf Champions League, we have MLS Cup, or just the MLS league. So really happy to be here and be with my teammates and then whatever happens, [it] happens in the future.”
Looking to keep the transfer irons hot, Castellanos has flexed his goalscoring prowess in NYCFC’s march through continental competition. He has three goals and two assists in three CCL matches, showing confidence against Costa Rica’s Santos de Guápiles and Guatemala’s Comunicaciones FC.
“The objectives are the same year by year – it’s obviously win as many cups as possible,” Castellanos said. “We have a couple opportunities this year that we’re really looking forward to and then personally it’s to score as many goals as possible, to help the team in any way possible, to protect that Golden Boot. I definitely want it again this season. Just looking forward to the season and what I can do personally and collectively as a team.”
Accomplishing that last part? It might be as simple as Castellanos remaining in NYCFC colors for the entire season. And given his growth since joining in 2018, that’s far from a guarantee.