Ecuador midfielder Jose Cifuentes has spoken publicly about a potential move to Celtic, believing that the Scottish champions would be an ideal club for him.
Football Scotland reported that the 20-year-old, who currently plays with America de Quito in his homeland, wants a move to a European club and name-checked Celtic as a possible destination.
According to Football Scotland, the Ecuador youth international has been targeted by Neil Lennon this summer, with the Celtic manager confirming that the midfielder was on his radar.
Speaking to Football Scotland, Cifuentes said: “I want to have the opportunity to leave for Europe. Celtic is a big club with everything that they play for. I had heard of the club before [the interest started].”
Cifuentes performed impressively for Ecuador at the Under-20 World Cup in Poland last month, helping his country to finish third at the finals.
It was a goal in which he demonstrated his ability to bring the ball forward with him and cut inside from the wing, eventually unleashing a fearsome shot that left the opposition goalkeeper helpless.
According to the Daily Record, the midfielder is also on Pep Guardiola’s radar at Manchester City, but Celtic have the advantage because Scotland’s rules on work permits are more liberal than those in the English Premier League.
A Soccersouls scout report on Cifuentes cited him as an “out-and-out defensive midfielder” with an excellent reading of the game, accurate passing ability to set up transitions and an ability to withstand physical challenges.
Nir Bitton is currently the most senior defensive midfielder in Lennon’s squad, with Eboue Kouassi and summer arrival Luca Connell also able to play in that position.
Cifuentes may be very green in terms of first-team experience – he has only played 15 first team games in Ecuador – but he is a player in fine form after his stellar Under-20 World Cup performances.
He appears to have enormous potential if a club of Manchester City’s vast wealth are reportedly interested in him, yet his apparent keenness on a move to Celtic seems to have put them in the box seat to get him.
Cifuentes would only cost in the region of £2.5m, according to The Scottish Sun, and while he might not displace Bitton in the team straight away if he signs, that fee looks like a bargain for a player who could get even better if he can build on his summer form.
Celtic fans, are you confident that the club can seal a deal for Cifuentes? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!
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