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Red Bulls sign Celtic striker Patryk Klimala to designated player contract

Polish youth international finally joins after weeks of rumors

Patryk Klimala of Poland seen in action during football U-21... Photo by Mateusz Slodkowski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

After weeks of anticipatory news buildup, the dam finally burst, springing forth a signing.

The New York Red Bulls announced the addition of Patryk Klimala, acquiring the striker from Celtic. The 22-year-old Polish youth international inked a four-year deal with an additional club option. The Scottish giants are “reported to be recouping the £3.5million fee” initially paid to Ekstraklasa side Jagiellonia Białystok, with additional add-ons potentially pushing the number higher.

“I’m very happy with Patryk’s decision to join us,” said manager Gerhard Struber. “At both the club and youth international level he has shown that he has high potential. He demonstrates a strong work ethic against the ball, which is very important to our style of play, and has very good instincts around the goal. His movement and ability in the final third give the team another weapon.”

Since joining Celtic in January of 2020, Klimala made 28 total appearances and scored three goals. A quarantine period allowed the striker to “bulk up,” improving his already impressive physical attributes, work that would unfortunately do little to better his standing in the rotation. He struggled to find a regular place in the lineup, particularly after thought-to-be-departing high scoring forward Odsonne Édouard stayed at the club.

Despite moving on quickly from the Scottish Premier League, Klimala recently received praise from his former manager. “Patryk is a terrific boy, he’s worked so hard,” said Celtic interim John Kennedy. “Even while he’s been here, there [has] been lots of development around his know-how in games. He’s very much a guy who likes playing on the counter-attack. He has good speed to run in behind… He will probably do well for them and it’s a good deal for his club at the same time so it made sense for him to move on.”

This signing is a true statement of intent from the Red Bulls, paying a relatively significant free for an unproven talent yet to realize his potential. While largely underperforming in top divisions outside of a brief half-season stint at Jagiellonia, Klimala appears to be a perfect fit for Struber’s style of play. The club is choosing to ignore his track record, focusing instead on what he can bring to the squad bother physically and technically, which is ideally quite significant. The strikers in the Austrian’s vertical 4-4-2 attack need to be physical marvels, capable of running for days and fighting in the box with center backs. The Polish youth international can do both, but earning a spot in the rotation and performing on the field while adjusting to a new environment is not always an immediate adaptation.

After the manager switch, this move is the most important of head of sport Kevin Thelwell’s young tenure. The club is choosing to put significant resources into Klimala who will now serve as the lightning rod for praise and criticism, flip-flopping dependent on the team’s form. A long-term contract could be a blessing for the Red Bulls’ future or an albatross hung from the neck of the budget. The level of risk is mitigated by scouting and experience, but there are no guarantees of success just the eternal optimism that every signing has the opportunity to become a star. The new striker has the talent, but now it’s his job to put it on display.