January 27, 2017
BACK AND CENTER
Peruvian defender Alexander Callens joins NYC FC
By Michael Lewis
|Claudio Reyna on Alexander Callens: “We believe that Alexander has the potential to improve further working with us."
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
New York City FC hoped it has shored up its shaky defense by signing Peruvian international center back Alexander Callens Friday.
The 24-year-old defender joins City on a free transfer from Numancia in Spain.
The Major League Soccer club is awaiting the receipt of Callens' P-1 visa and International Transfer Certificate. Callen, who passed a medical exam in New York, will fly down to Jacksonville, Fla. to start preseason training.
The Blues, who finished second in the Eastern Conference last season, allowed 57 goals-- 17th among 20 teams -- behind a rather porous backline.
A pacey and powerful left-footed center back, Callens has made 10 international appearances for Peru and arrives in New York following six years in Spain.
“This is a great joy," Callens said. "It's a new experience that I'm sure will help me maintain a good competitive rhythm and will help me develop more at my position.
“Of course it's exciting to have a coach like Patrick Vieira with experience at a world level and who will guide me to help improve in my performance.
“I'm a player who pulls out the claws and leaves everything on the field, ready to defend the team, and I have a lot to learn but I'm sure I'll meet the fans’ expectations.”
Needless to say, head coach Patrick Vieira was quite happy with the team's latest acquisition.
“I’m really happy to welcome Alexander to the squad. He’s an international defender with the characteristics we look for in his position," he said.
“On top of this, he’s somebody who is hungry for success in his career, so I’m looking forward to him arriving here in Florida to train with us and to working with him.”
The 6-1, 180-lb. Callens is expected to team with either Luxembourg international defender Maxime Chanot or Belgium's Frederic Brillant at the center of defense.
“We are excited to add a tall, quick, strong defender who we believe will fit into our style of play and is motivated to get started with our club," City sporting director Claudio Reyna said.
“We believe that Alexander has the potential to improve further working with us and so we’re really happy to have added him to our roster for 2017.”
Callens, who made 40 appearances for Nunmancia, also played for Real Sociedad B between 2011 and 2015, making 86 league appearances. He emerged through the youth ranks at six-time Peruvian champions Sport Boys.
He was named in Peru’s preliminary Copa America Centernario team last summer but was not selected to the 23-man roster.