Valentín Castellanos leaves New York City FC a better player and a club legend

Jul 23, 2022; New York, New York, USA; New York City FC midfielder Valentin Castellanos (11) reacts
Jul 23, 2022; New York, New York, USA; New York City FC midfielder Valentin Castellanos (11) reacts / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

On Monday, New York City FC announced that Valentín Castellanos is leaving the club to join Girona Futbol Club, S.A.D., better known as Girona FC.  The star of the Bronx will be going to Spain on a loan deal that will end in June of 2023.  Not only will the Argentine be an attacking option for the club, but there is hope that the loan deal will allow him to continue developing his craft, and showcase his value for the future.

While Castellanos was expected to leave before the season, fans were grateful they were able to have the striker for over half of the 2022 fixtures.  Fortunately, he was able to play one last time in front of the fans too, and concluded his time with NYCFC with a 2-0 win against Miami.  The information about his move was circulating all week, and as a result, everyone was able to give him a proper goodbye. 

The loss will be difficult for the Pigeons, for they are now losing a fantastic player and person.  But this was the time to move, and the club, the fans, his teammates, and Castellanos himself knew it was time.  Nevertheless, he will miss NYCFC, and expressed his gratitude to the fans in an interview through

"To the fans, thank you, obviously for all of the support you have given us in recent years. It’s always been unconditional, but especially with me. I am totally grateful because they have always been supportive in the best possible way. I have tried to give my very best for the Club, for the fans, and I’ve also tried to take care of my image in the best way so that our fans not only see an Idol, a player but also an icon that they can see their children reflected on that will grow and inspire others with positive messages. I want to thank them for all these years.  We’ve lived really nice moments together and luckily I was able to provide lots of joy to them with my teammates and all the people at the club. This is the most beautiful thing about soccer."

Valentín Castellanos

A brief look at Valentín Castellanos’ career with New York City FC

There is no denying that Castellanos will be greatly missed by both New York City FC and the fans.  He developed into a star over the last few years, and is a huge reason why the Pigeons won the MLS Cup in 2021. 

When the forward first arrived in 2018, quite a few fans wondered what the young player would bring to the team.  But over the next few years, he developed into a versatile forward and goalscorer.  Not only can he play on the wings, which was the original reason he was brought, but he can now play at the striker position. 

Each season he got better and better.  Yes, he turned into the goalscoring forward that Major League Soccer knows him as.  More importantly, even when he does not score, he is constantly a threat to opposition teams.  When Castellanos moves to the wings, he always gets the ball into the box, and can create opportunities for his teammates.  His shots and shots on target numbers tend to be higher compared to other players, and his expected goals is one of the best in the league.  He is also not afraid to move into the defense as well, and does well with recovering the ball.

As such, Castellanos has developed into a well-rounded player.  He is not some forward who feels he has to wait for the ball to get to him, and will create his own opportunities.  This will make him a great addition to Girona, and really any team that he plays for in the future.  His versatility up front is a huge plus as well. 

Due to his development, the striker has done so much for NYCFC because he plays well.  This is regardless of whether he would score.  But when Héber went down with his ACL injury, no one knew who could step up to play in the striker position, and many thought Castellanos was a winger.  Therefore, the belief was that the Pigeons had to go out and find someone.  Although, Ronny Deila was persistent; the Argentine could take over.  And guess what?  He was right. 

Castellanos led NYCFC throughout 2021, and kept them afloat even when the team struggled at points.  The Golden Boot winner was a major part to the run at the end of the season, and then the major part of why the team won the MLS Cup, as he scored three goals in the playoffs. 

Off the field, he quickly became a fan favorite.  He put in the time for the fans, and sometimes would be the last player to leave after signing items and taking pictures after matches.  He never complained, and was always so professional, even when he did not make the desired move to Europe prior to the 2022 season.  Some players might have forced a move by not showing up to training, or gone on social media to complain.  But Castellanos did not take such action.  He expressed his desire to move on in the media, but continued to train and play until such a move was able to take place.    

Also, fans loved his love for NYCFC.  His passion for the club was there, and all one had to do was watch him on the pitch, in training, and off the pitch to see it.  He was beloved by his teammates in the locker-room, which makes sense since he is always humble, kind, and thoughtful towards others. 

New York City FC is not just losing a good player, but a good person too. After 134 overall appearances, the Argentine leaves with 59 goals, a Golden Boot, and a MLS Cup.  In the end, there is only one word that is needed to describe what he is though: a NYCFC legend.