LAFC continue to make moves outside of the MLS transfer window, announcing the signing of free agent attacker Cristian Tello on a contract through 2022, with club options for 2023 as well as 2024. Tello will occupy an international roster slot upon the receipt of his P1 Visa and International Transfer Certificate (ITC)
“Cristian is a dangerous attacker and a great fit to what we are building at LAFC,” LAFC Co-President & General Manager John Thorrington said in a statement. “He has played for some of the biggest Clubs in the world and has succeeded in high-pressure situations like the Champions League. We are excited to welcome him, his wife and family to L.A. as we continue the work towards our ultimate goal of winning championships.”
Tello, 31, joins after a career played previously in Europe. The Catalonia native spent time at both the Espanyol and FC Barcelona youth systems, turning pro with Espanyol’s reserve team in 2009-10, then joining Barcelona’s pro set-up in 2010, first playing for Barcelona B before getting promoted to the first team in 2011. Tello was under contract at Barcelona for six years, but spent the second half of his tenure at the club mostly on loan, at Portuguese giant Porto from 2014-16, and at Italian outfit Fiorentina in 2016-17. In the summer of 2017, he moved to Spanish side Real Betis, and had the most stable run of his career there, scoring 24 goals in 172 appearances there. He’s won one La Liga title, in 2012-13, and won the Copa del Rey last season with Betis, a notable achievement at that club, to go with the Copa del Rey won with Barcelona a decade earlier.
A Spanish youth international at several age groups, Tello has one senior cap with Spain, in 2013. He was a teammate of LAFC midfielder Ilie Sanchez at Barcelona B, so he’ll have a familiar face in his new club.
A forward and winger, Tello should fit in pretty well to LAFC’s typical three-attacker front line. And while he’s bounced around a fair amount in his career, he’s long been considered a very talented player in Europe, and while he never became a superstar, his profile may be closer to that of Carlos Vela — another talented player who found success and stability at a mid-table La Liga side before balling out in MLS — than we may think coming in. Obviously if he’s that good, it will be worth it to have signed him. But we’ll see when he arrives, how he looks when he gets into the fray as LAFC chase titles, and what he contributes to the black-and-gold. Welcome aboard!
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