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Could Keaton Parks Reach Potential in the Bronx

After a productive loan last season with New York City FC, American Keaton Parks has signed a permanent deal with the club. While Parks seems to be settling in well in the MLS, it was only a few years ago when his career seemed to be taking a much different path.

In the latter part of 2016, Parks emerged as one of the United States’ top prospects. The attacking midfielder was young, versatile, and provided an attacking spark for second division Portuguese club Varzim down the stretch of the 2016-2017 season. Parks finished the 2016-2017 season with two goals in 13 appearances.

The excitement surrounding Parks only increased after he completed a transfer to Portuguese mega club Benfica. The 37 time Primeira Liga title winners signed Parks with high hopes. Benfica assigned Parks to their reserve side Benfica B to give him playing time and aid his development.

Dennis Schneidler/USA TODAY Sports

With Benfica’s reserve side, Parks flourished and excitement only grew around the youngster. In the 2017-2018 season with Benfica’s reserve side, Parks seemed to breakout providing six goals and six assists in only 29 appearances eventually earning a call up to Benfica’s senior side along the way.

Parks made six appearances with Benfica’s first team and even garnered so much attention he received a call up to the United States National Team.

Those six appearances would be Parks last with Benfica’s first team as he was sent back down to the reserve side to begin the 2018-2019 season. The midfielder made 13 appearances for Benfica B only contributing an assist.

Parks would be loaned to New York City FC in January of 2019. He initially had a slow start with the side, but took a step forward in his development and by the end of the season, was an integral part of the team. In Parks’ first season with the club, he had three goals and three assists in his debut system.

Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports

One change that could aid Parks development is New York City FC’s hiring of former Celtic manager Ronny Deila, who spoke very highly of the midfielder.

“When I watch Keaton, I see a very skilled player with extreme confidence on the ball. He fits in seamlessly with how we want to play in the [New York] City style and his performance in 2019 showed that,” Deila stated.

Parks is a very versatile and dangerous midfielder when playing his best, and he can be effective in multiple positions across the pitch. If Parks development stays on track, he could easily develop into one of the most dangerous attacking midfielders in the MLS, and could even see more national team appearances in the near future.

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