Just days after Orlando City's disappointing season ended, Cyle Larin has confirmed he will be pursuing his dream of playing in Europe.
Larin, who led the Lions in scoring the past three seasons, is entering the first of two option years on his current contract with the MLS side.
“I think I’m at the right place to go play in Europe and it’s the right time,” Larin told the Orlando Sentinel on Wednesday. “I think I’ll benefit. I have personal goals and dreams and I want to go to Europe and play. I think it’s the right time.”
Larin, 22, has been linked to European clubs since college and has never shied away from expressing his interest in playing overseas. Earlier this year, the Canada international was linked to moves to Anderlecht, Celtic and Everton, among others.
Now, Larin says: "I'm ready to challenge myself and play at the highest possible level I can.
“My contract is ending this season, and I think it’s the right time. I love playing for Orlando. MLS and Orlando have given me a lot, and in the three years I’ve been here, I love playing and I love the fans, but I think to reach my goals it’s necessary to play at the highest level possible with the best players.”
According to the Sentinel, Larin has not spoken to Orlando City coach Jason Kreis or the front office regarding a move this winter. The club has made it clear that any transfer would need to benefit both the Lions and Larin before they move forward.
Orlando City general manager Niki Budalic told the Sentinel that no offers have been made for Larin since the European summer transfer windows closed. But it appears the Lions are ready to listen as they help their young star reach his career goal.
“We’ve always known he’s had a longstanding interest to play abroad, and it’s always been our intention to help him achieve those goals through his development and his progress here,” Budalic said.
“If there’s an opportunity for him to move that he wants to pursue and we receive an acceptable offer from the club, then of course we’ll try to make everyone happy. So, he’s under contract for two more years, but we understand if there’s an opportunity for him to go that we agree with then, yes, I think we’ll definitely help support him.”
Orlando City finished in 11th place in the Eastern Conference standings, picking up only 39 points from 34 matches. Prior to the final match of the season, Brazilian superstar Kaka announced that he would be leaving the club as his contract expired.