Valentin Castellanos has taken an unusual route in his playing career, but the road is paved with rewards for the youngster.
The 20-year-old NYCFC attacker received a call-up to Argentina's U-23 squad for two friendlies against Mexico next month, and that selection has helped validate the decisions he's made in his career.
"Personally, I am very happy with this start with the national team, so it is very nice for me," Castellanos told Futbol MLS's Ariel Judas on Friday. "I always dreamed of wearing the Argentina shirt, as a kid, and it is when the club is in the playoffs and we are having a good time with New York City FC."
The Mendoza, Argentina native has not played in his native country at the pro level, instead kicking off his first-team career in Chile at Universidad de Chile and then heading to Uruguay to play at Torque. From the latter club, owned by the same City Football Group as NYCFC, he joined the MLS outfit during the 2018 season and the Cityzens picked up his loan option in the offseason.
This year, following an acclimation period Castellanos has truly taken off, notching 11 goals and five assists in 29 league matches to date, and at times carrying the side when other attackers have been out of the lineup.
The success this year demonstrates that making the move to MLS was the right move for Castellanos.
"I knew it was the right decision to come to MLS. Everyone sees this league. It is growing much more. As I always say: Here players not only come to retire, but there are young players, with much potential in almost all the teams. I take it as something very positive. I never gave up; I knew that at some point [the Argentine national team] were going to be watching the league. There are many people who already see it. I'm having a good time and now I'm enjoying it."
And Castellanos' coach Dome Torrent, one of his biggest backers, is pleased the budding star is getting more recognition.
"I'm happy for Taty, because I think he deserves to play with his team," he said. "In the last six months he played at an outstanding level for us. He is a warrior. I knew he was close to being able to play with the national team. It's good news."
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