When Head Coach Nick Cushing desperately tried to fill the void left by the now-Lazio-based talisman Taty Castellanos throughout the 2023 campaign, Talles Magno was given chance after chance to step up and lead the New York City FC attack into another playoff race.
And yet, after a below-average first half of the season, Talles Magno continued to leave fans disappointed, with many left to wonder if the Brazilian starlet’s time in the Big Apple ran its course.
Fan expectations were high when the season kicked off in February. NYCFC had no true catalyst up front, and Talles Magno was one of the few experienced forwards left in the squad. Nevertheless, nothing seemed to click for the Brazilian.
At the mid-way point of the 2023 campaign, I had the privilege of grading the Brazilian’s half-season performance, presenting him with a C. He wasn’t productive, but Talles Magno wasn’t outright costing NYCFC games. His average to below-average performances in front of goal left fans more irritated than anything else, but many believed that the second half of the year, with the addition of striker Mounsef Bakrar, would bear more fruit. Alas, this notion didn’t materialize either.
Following the MLS All-Star game, Talles Magno played in 11 of the possible 13 matches in all competitions for NYCFC. The Brazilian averaged just 44 minutes per match, including four matches in which he featured for less than 25 minutes.
During this 13-game stretch, Talles Magno was also dropped for two straight matches against CF Montreal and the Vancouver Whitecaps, before featuring for just one minute during NYCFC’s 0-0 draw with the New York Red Bulls on September 16th.
It was during this time that Talles Magno’s role and future with the club were called into question. But Nick Cushing shut down any ideas of discontent or fractured relationships in the locker room. A smart move in hindsight, considering the squad was still well and truly in the playoff hunt until the final day of the season.
Despite the very staunch and public support from Cushing, Talles Magno failed to make much of an impact on the field. A goal vs Orlando City and an assist vs Toronto FC in back-to-back games saw the Brazilian thrust back into the fold. But, as his minutes increased, his impact once again fell off a cliff. An inexcusable drop-off for one of the top five highest earners in the squad.
Following an impressive 1-0 win over Chicago FC on Decision Day, a match that saw Talles Magno play all 90 minutes, the Boys in Blue just narrowly missed out on the MLS Cup Playoffs, as Charlotte FC managed a 1-0 win over Inter Miami, locking up the final Wild Card spot. Some may wonder if that match was indeed Talles Magno’s final appearance in Sky Blue for NYCFC. At just 21 years old, and valued at $12 million according to Transfermarkt, this could be the perfect time for NYCFC to cash in on the Brazilian, and continue to rebuild and reshape the Boys in Blue.
New additions Bakrar and Julian Fernandez have settled nicely into Cushing’s attacking system, while defender Birk Risa has asserted himself as a future MLS world-beater in the back. Building off the momentum of those transfers, a fee at or near Talles Magno’s $12 million valuation could be too good to pass up. The Brazilian is too experienced and is paid too great of a salary to rot on the bench.
Now that all is said and done, I can confidently say that Talles Magno failed to live up to all expectations put in front of him. Four goals and two assists in 30 matches in all competitions is pitiful for a former MLS Cup Champion, and a forward who recorded 15 goal involvements the season prior. More questions than answers surround the young Brazilian. The talent is evident, but is he capable of playing in a system on the flank alongside Mounsef Bakrar? Does Cushing trust him as his day-one left-winger in February?
If the answer to either or both of these questions is no, it’s time to move on.