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Florida State’s Deyna Castellanos signs with Atlético Madrid

The FSU star had previously said that NWSL’s rules “do not favor international talent.”

FSU forward Deyna Castellanos plays against Virginia during the ACC women's soccer tournament semifinals on Nov. 8, 2019 at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C. (Mitchell Northam / Pro Soccer USA)

Deyna Castellanos will begin her professional soccer career in 2020, it just won’t be in the National Women’s Soccer League.

After a decorated career at Florida State University, Castellanos confirmed Thursday that she had signed a contract with Spain-based Atlético de Madrid Femenino through the 2022 season.

The club plays in Spain’s top division in women’s soccer and also competes in the UEFA women’s Champions League.

“Glad for the decision to reach a leading club in women’s football and very excited to reach a dressing room full of talent and personality,” Castellanos wrote in a tweet on Thursday, according to a Google translation.  “… Already focused and motivated to learn and grow in this new stage.”

A 5-foot-7 forward, Castellanos was a star on the pitch for the Seminoles, helping Mark Krikorian’s side win a College Cup in 2018. She was named to the All-ACC First Team in three seasons, and was named ACC Offensive Player of the Year in 2019. She was also on the watchlist for the MAC Hermann Trophy — awarded to the top player in college soccer — in three of her four seasons.

Castellanos led the Seminoles in goals-scored in each of her four seasons. In all, she totaled 48 goals and 22 assists across 82 appearances. Castellanos owns or co-owns FSU records for most assists in a single game (3), game-winning goals in a career (20) and most multi-goal games in a single season (6).

The striker is no stranger to the international stage. She has already been capped 13 times by the Venezuelan senior national team, scoring six times. Castellanos gained notoriety through her performance at a pair of FIFA U-17 World Cups, where she notched 11 goals across the 2014 and 2016 tournaments. In 2017, Castellanos was a finalist for the best women’s football player at the annual FIFA Awards.

Castellanos has more than 1.3 million followers on Instagram and would have been one of the NWSL’s more popular and marketable players. But it became apparent that Castellanos might sign with an international club instead of entering the NWSL draft when she sent out tweet in November, commenting on an article on the future of the league from SB Nation.

“I would love to consider @NWSL but hard to do that when rules do not favor international talent,” Castellanos wrote. “This article explains some of the reasons in great form. Maybe one day.”

Since Castellanos’ tweet, the league announced a restructured compensation plan and new roster rules for the 2020 season.

Atlético Madrid has finished first in its league in each of the past three seasons. The club won the Copa de la Reina in 2016 and has advanced to the Round of 16 in Champions League twice in the past four seasons. Some of the club’s current high-profile players include 2019 FIFA World Cup Golden Glove winner Sari van Veenendaal and English winger Toni Duggan. Las Rojiblancas were also one of four teams to compete in the Women’s International Champions Cup this past summer in Cary, North Carolina.

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