Valentin Castellanos – New York City FC

Reports have surfaced in recent days around Brazilian Serie A side Palmeiras showing interest in New York City FC forward Valentin Castellanos, even identifying a $4 million transfer offer.

But NYCFC head coach Ronny Deila has poured some cold water on that possibility – at least for now – as they navigate the early portions of their 2021 MLS season. The Argentine has repeatedly been linked to the reigning Copa Libertadores champions, though nothing’s come to fruition.

Castellanos’ importance to NYCFC is even more pronounced as Brazilian striker Heber recovers from a torn ACL he suffered in September 2020.

“We are not intending to sell him,” Deila told Glenn Crooks. “It's of course about two reasons. That is one, we want to keep him. He is so important for our team. He developed a lot the last year and now he's a key guy for us up front. It doesn't help either that we only have one striker right now when Heber is out.

“So everybody understands that that's going to be very, very hard to let him go. We want to keep him here for many years and keep on developing him and hopefully he can be a top scorer in MLS [like] already this year. I'm very happy that we are going to keep him here.”

Since coming to NYCFC in 2018, initially on loan from Uruguayan club Torque, Castellanos has 20 goals and 11 assists through 62 matches. He’s scored in the Cityzens’ first two games of the new campaign and was their leading scorer in 2020.

Capable of playing wide and centrally, Castellanos has emerged as NYCFC’s go-to No. 9 option. On the international stage, he’s also appeared in six games for Argentina’s Under-23 side.

Asked if contract negotiations could emerge, Deila said they’re always looking to keep their best players and described it as an “ongoing process.” At the very least, Deila has high hopes for what Castellanos can accomplish in MLS – both personally and collectively.

“We know we have Taty in a contract here and he's going to stay here and play good for us,” Deila said. “Of course everybody has dreams, and Taty I'm sure also has a dream of playing in even bigger clubs. 

“But he is really happy here and I think we can develop him further on and we'll be really, really happy if we can win something together and in the end also he can take a step to the next stage. But that's not now. He needs to stay here and achieve something with us first.”