NYCFC today announced the signing of Benin international defender Cedric Houtondji on a free transfer pending receipt of his P1 Visa and International Transfer Certificate.
Houtondji is a center-back that made his way up the youth ranks of French side Stade Rennais but never found a spot on the senior squad and was loaned out to Ligue 2 sides, Chateauroux and Auxerre before his sale to Gazelec Ajaccio in 2016 on a free transfer.
Cedric Houtondji was under contract through June 2018 however the player and his club agreed to terminate his contract in order to facilitate a move. Houtondji found himself surplus to requirements this season with only 2 appearances in 18 matches so far this season for Ajaccio.
The move comes as a surprise to many who believed Houtondji was headed elsewhere in Europe. NYCFC coach Patrick Vieira alluded to foreign interest in a statement released by the club.
“He’s a young defender with his best years ahead of him and there was a lot of interest in him. I think it says a lot that a young player in Europe wanted to come to us and believes in our project and the ambitions of our football club.”
Cedric Houtondji has made 5 appearances for Benin following his international debut last year despite growing up in France and playing for their youth national teams.
NYCFC Sporting Director Claudio Reyna hailed the signing as a good fit. “Cedric is a tall, athletic defender with a very good understanding tactically on how we want to play and will adapt with how we want to defend as a unit,” said Reyna in a statement.
Houtondji’s arrival means Patrick Vieira will have more depth in the center back role behind Maxime Chanot and Alexander Callens. Center backs Ethan White, Jefferson Mena and Frederic Brillant all saw their contracts expire with NYCFC at the end of 2017.