The battle to sign Ecuadorian wonder-kid Jose Cifuentes might have just become a one-horse race.
According to the Scottish Sun in early August, the champions of England and Scotland were going head-to-head for the 20-year-old America de Quito starlet in an old-school, ‘Battle of Britain'-style transfer tussle.
Manchester City made a bid of £2 million for Cifuentes, who shot to fame with a series of all-action displays during the U20 World Cup earlier this summer, but a potential move to the Etihad Stadium fell through with Pep Guardiola’s side reluctant to fork over a substantial chunk of cash to his agent.
With the English transfer window slamming shut one week ago, this might have left Celtic free to negotiate a deal for a player who is clearly flattered by interest from the dominant force of Scottish football.
"It would be very interesting to play there, in the Scottish league. They're are a good team - and I want to be the protagonist in a lot of competitions,” Cifuentes told Football Scotland earlier in August.
A deep-lying midfielder with a wonderful passing range and the stamina to run for days, signing Cifuentes certainly makes sense, especially after Scott Brown endured a night to forget in Celtic’s humiliating Champions League defeat to Cluj on Tuesday.
The captain is not getting any younger and, at the age of 34, doubts persist about his ability to control games against European opposition these days.
Cifuentes would not only provide some much-needed competition, he would also give Celtic a long-term successor once Brown finally calls it a day.
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