When New York City FC supporters think of club legends, one of the players that comes to mind is Alexander Callens. The former player spent six years with the Pigeons. His partnership with Maxime Chanot was considered one of the best in the league, and his contributions in the defense are a big part of why the team went on the MLS Cup Championship run in 2021.
At the end of the 2022 season, Callens took his chance to try and find success in Europe for a second time. He signed with Girona FC, thus ending his time in New York City. However, injuries at first halted his ability to play. Then, it became clear he was not a first-choice center-back, let alone one of the top substitutes. He only made six appearances for the club.
When it became clear he was not going to get concrete playing time in Spain, Callens and Girona worked to find him a loan deal. As a result, Greece came calling.
Alexander Callens joins AEK Athens F.C. on loan
The former NYCFC player has officially joined AEK Athens F.C. on loan until June 2024. The Greek team finished the 2022-2023 season in second place during the regular season and first in the Championship playoff.
Athens is one of the top teams in Greece, so Callens will have the opportunity to achieve success in Europe. He also gets the chance to play in the Europa League. At the same time, the center-back will have plenty of competition for starting minutes. Players like Harold Moukoudi and Domagoj Vida are some defenders he will compete with.
Like anywhere, playing time is not a guarantee. The former Pigeon will have to work hard to find the success in Europe he desires to achieve. Based on his play in Major League Soccer, there is a chance he can be a starter.
When all is said and done, NYCFC should monitor Callens to see how he does. If he struggles to gain minutes with Athens, then the club should seriously consider bringing him back. Letting him go was not the smart move, and as many know, he would have returned with the right contract. Sadly, Thiago Martins' Designated Player contract was in the way.
At least the legend has a chance to make it in Europe. After his time with New York City FC, he deserves it.