Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By IVES GALARCEP
Juan Agudelo’s training stint with Scottish champion Celtic is going well, leading to positive comments from the Celtic camp as well as from Agudelo about his time there.
Just what those comments really mean is up for debate, but the comments already have the spin machine working at full force as headlines claiming Celtic is lining up a bid for the U.S. national team forward, and subsequent headlines claiming Agudelo is itching for a move to Celtic, make the rounds based on a handful of general platitudes.
“He has looked very good, we have been very impressed with him,” said Celtic manager Neil Lennon. “We are hoping he will stay around for a few more days and we can talk with his representatives.”
When asked about whether there is a chance something can happen, as in a transfer move, Lennon’s responds with more platitudes and nothing concrete.
“I don’t know. I don’t know,” Lennnon said. “I haven’t had the chance to sit down with everyone and discuss it but myself and my back-room team have been very impressed.”
You can watch video of Lennon’s comments here to give you a better sense of his responses.
Aside from being complimentary of Agudelo, Lennon really doesn’t say anything of substance with regard to an actual bid for Agudelo, but chances are you have read a half-dozen stories already claiming that such a move is happening. All of those stories based on the above comments.
Agudelo did his part to keep the talk going by–you guessed it–saying nice things about Celtic.
“(It’s) definitely something I thought of as soon as I heard the word Celtic,” Agudelo told STV. “I know the history. It’s basically a religion for many.
“Just to have that there and have the support of the whole city would be lovely. Especially due to the fact they are consistently Champions League. Being in the group stage of the Champions League is huge.”
When asked if he would move to Celtic, Agudelo played coy.
“We’ll see. I’d have to consider a lot of things but definitely, Celtic is a great club,” Agudelo told STV. “This kind of move has been on my mind for as long as I can remember playing soccer. Going and playing in Europe is what I would like to do. (Europe) is, right now, where the best football is being played. I would love to play here.”
So is a Celtic move for Agudelo happening? Until something more tangible than the above comments emerges it is a bit of a leap to suggest a deal is imminent. Lennon spoke kindly of Agudelo and Agudelo spoke well of Celtic. For now, that is all that has happened.
It shouldn’t really come as a surprise that Celtic would find Agudelo impressive. Despite a largely forgettable year beset by injuries, Agudelo has long been on the radar of European clubs, with inquiries made by English Premier League clubs last winter.
The big issue with any potential move for Agudelo is the fact that MLS won’t sell him cheaply, and like all their young talent, is pricing players out the current market. The high bar set by Jozy Altidore’s $10 million transfer to Villarreal has had the lasting effect of making the league believe it can generate big offers for its young talent.
Much has changed in the four and a half years since Altidore’s transfer. The big spending in Europe has diminished considerably, and even an impressive training stint isn’t likely to compel Celtic to pay a sizable fee for a player who isn’t a proven commodity in Europe. A player who has yet to spend a full season as a regular starter on the club level.
As for Agudelo, it isn’t really earth-shattering news that he has European club aspirations, and it is a good bet he’d leave Chivas USA in a heartbeat if a solid offer came along to pry him away, but anyone thinking a Celtic move is looming for the 20-year-old striker might want to slow down.
The best news in all of this is that Agudelo is in good form heading into the new year. Consider how the current year has gone for him, between injuries, the Olympic qualifying disappointment and Chivas USA’s nightmare season, Agudelo is finishing the year on a high note. His play in the USMNT’s recent friendly against Russia, coupled with the positive buzz surrounding his Celtic training stint, has helped put Agudelo back in the spotlight.
It will be up to Agudelo to work hard to stay there.