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Celtic beating the English champions to sign this 20-year-old rising star would be a statement by Lennon

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Celtic FC opinion: The Hoops should beat Man City to sign Jose Cifuentes

According to The Sun, Scottish Premiership giants Celtic and reigning Premier League champions Man City are set to go head-to-head in a transfer tug of war over Ecuadorian starlet Jose Cifuentes.

The 20-year-old starred for Ecuador at the recently-concluded FIFA U-20 World Cup in Poland and his red-hot form has attracted interest from the likes of Man City and Celtic, the Sun understands.

City ideally want to loan him out to Girona in Spain to allow him to further his development, while Celtic are looking at him as a first-team player, given that the work permit laws are far less severe in the north of the border.

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The 20-year-old, who currently plies his trade in the Ecuadorian top-flight with America de Quito, is rated at £2.5 million. (h/t Sun)

Cifuentes scored one of the best goals of the tournament at the U-20 World Cup, as Ecuador made it all the way to the semi-finals and eventually settled for a third-place finish with a victory over Italy.

He featured in each of Ecuador’s seven games at the World Cup and earned rave reviews for his performances in the middle of the park.

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Prior to his heroics at the U-20 World Cup in Poland, Cifuentes was one of the key driving forces behind Ecuador’s triumph at the 2019 U-20 South American Championship held in Chile.

The 20-year-old is yet to earn his first senior international cap but he has already made a total of 19 appearances for his nation at the U-20 level, playing a key role in two major youth championships.

A youth product of Universidad Catolica, Cifuentes made only 6 senior competitive appearances for his boyhood club before switching boats to join America de Quito in January 2019.

The youngster has made a total of 9 appearances for his current club, and with his stocks currently on the rise, one would expect him to feature more prominently in the years to come.

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Essentially a defensive midfielder by trade, Jose Cifuentes is noted for his tough-tackling and all-action style in the middle of the park, as well as his work-rate, energy and stamina.

A strong and tenacious midfield enforcer with a burst of youthful exuberance, the Ecuadorian starlet is not only adept at breaking up the play but he also boasts of a good range of passing, which allows him to dictate the tempo of the game.

To put things into perspective, Celtic should look to have the final say in this transfer saga involving one of the brightest emerging prospects in South America and the Hoops could have a gem on their hands if Cifuentes goes on to fulfil his promise at Parkhead in the years to follow.

From the player’s point of view, the prospect of playing for the Scottish champions coupled with the lure of Champions League football should convince the 20-year-old to move to snub Man City in favour of a move to Parkhead.

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The likes of Nir Bitton and Eboue Kouassi were pretty much peripheral figures in Celtic’s first-team last season, while Scott Allan is set to join Hibernian upon the expiry of his contract. Youssouf Mulumbu doesn’t seem to have a future at the club, while Scott Brown is already 33.

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Suffice to say, Celtic should relish the prospect of a young and talented midfielder like Jose Cifuentes challenging for a first-team role next season and 2.5 million is certainly a bargain in the market these days.

Having said that, Celtic should leave no stone unturned in their pursuit of the Ecuadorian prodigy this summer.