Ecuador midfielder Jose Cifuentes has reiterated his desire to move to Celtic, having been linked with the Scottish champions throughout the summer.
In an interview with Football Scotland, the 20-year-old America de Quito player said: “It would be very interesting to play there, in the Scottish league. I imagine that they [Celtic] are a good team and I want to be the protagonist in a lot of competitions.”
Football Scotland added that Manchester City had made an offer for the midfielder, but the Ecuadorian club rejected it, with their president Fidel Egas reportedly eager to avoid Manchester City buying him to then loan him out immediately to a lower tier club.
Last month, Cifuentes told Football Scotland amid reported interest from Celtic: “I want to have the opportunity to leave for Europe. Celtic is a big club with everything that they play for.”
Cifuentes was one of Ecuador’s standout performers at the Under-20 World Cup in Poland this year, helping his country to claim the bronze medal.
Cifuentes was lauded in a Soccersouls scout report as being an excellent reader of the game with adept passing ability and the tenacity to withstand physical play.
Whether that would be enough to get him into Celtic’s first XI straight away is another matter. Neil Lennon has three defensive midfielders in his squad in Nir Bitton, Luca Connell and Eboue Kouassi, but only the former has been given game-time in the first five matches of the season.
It is worth noting, however, that four of Bitton’s five starts in 2019/20 have been in defence rather than midfield, so a continuation of that setup could leave a vacancy at the base of midfield for Cifuentes to fill.
Cifuentes had played very little senior football prior to 2019 but, having earned a sustained run in America de Quito’s first-team and lit up the Under-20 World Cup, he should be much better prepared for a move to Europe.
The youngster appears to have a sensible mindset, focusing on getting gametime at Celtic instead of being a disposable asset at Manchester City, who have dispatched the likes of Patrick Roberts and Marlos Moreno on multiple loan moves without ever giving them any real chance in the first team.
A fee of £2.5million could be enough for Celtic to land him, according to The Scottish Sun, and that represents tremendous value for a player who seems determined to make his mark for the Hoops and who has been in a rich vein of form for club and country recently.
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