The 21-year-old Canadian international is reportedly on Brendan Rodgers’ radar after scoring 31 goals in 59 appearances during his two seasons in MLS.
Portland Timbers midfielder Darlington Nagbe is reportedly not the only MLS player Celtic are keen to sign in the January transfer window.
According to FourFourTwo USA’s Paul Tenorio, Orlando City SC striker Cyle Larin is also one of a number of goalscorers that the Scottish champions are tracking heading into the winter as they prepare for the prospect of losing Moussa Dembele to one of Europe’s major clubs.
Taken by Orlando with the first pick in the 2015 SuperDraft following a two-year career at the University of Connecticut, Larin took MLS by storm in his first professional campaign, breaking the league’s rookie scoring record with 17 goals in 27 regular season appearances to finish fifth in the Golden Boot standings and win the Rookie of the Year award.
The 21-year Canadian was not quite as prolific this past term, netting 14 times in 32 games as his side finished one point outside the playoffs in eighth in the Eastern Conference, but his immense promise was recognised back in September when he was named the No. 1 prospect in MLS’ annual “24 Under 24” rankings.
Internationally, the 6ft 2in front man has also hit five goals in 19 appearances for Canada since making his senior debut in May 2014 at the age of only 19, and speculation is already rife that he could soon be heading to Europe.
Reports over the summer claimed that Portuguese giants Benfica and Sporting Clube de Portugal were both keeping a close eye on the one-time All-Star, and while Orlando insisted at the time that they had yet to field any offers, it seems inevitable that he will eventually be lured across the Atlantic.
“Last year he told me his goal was to play in Europe,” former Orlando head coach and ex-Everton striker Adrian Heath told FourFourTwo in September when discussing Larin’s potential. “We spoke about it the first day. I told him it takes hard work and he’d have to commit himself and be dedicated and he’s done that.
“I’ve worked in the Premier League and the English Championship. I still spend time there when I take time off and go to Everton or elsewhere and watch them up-close in training. I have no doubt in my mind if he stays committed to the process he can achieve being at one of them clubs. And he can be successful there.”
It remains to be seen whether any English clubs are preparing to pursue Larin’s signature in January, but there are certainly plenty of reasons to believe that he could prove a huge hit at Celtic should Brendan Rodgers need to find a replacement for the reportedly in-demand Dembele.
Blessed with a tantalising combination of size, speed and skill, the Ontario native is just as adept at playing with his back to goal as going at defenders one-on-one and, despite seeing his production decline slightly in 2016, he has noticeably improved as a finisher since his rookie season.
Having outshone club captain Kaka, Orlando will obviously do their best to try to keep hold of him going forward, but Tenorio’s report claims that the Florida-based outfit could be persuaded to sell their star forward over the winter if they can fetch “a high transfer fee”.