Atlanta United

Velez & Atlanta United send mixed Thiago Almada transfer messages

Chris Smith
Almada is one of the most promising young talents in South American soccer.
Almada is one of the most promising young talents in South American soccer. / Pool/GettyImages
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Velez and Atlanta United appear to be in disagreement regarding the transfer of Thiago Almada.

The 20-year-old's name isn't new to Five Stripes supporters, with a deal reportedly in the works for some time now.

On Friday, Velez announced a $16m agreement for Almada's move to Atlanta United via their social media channels, stating it would come into force in February 2022.

"An understanding was reached with MLS for the definitive transfer of the federative rights of Thiago Almada to Atlanta United," their translated statement read.

"The fee is $16m. The agreement would come into force at the beginning of February 2022."

In an interesting turn, Atlanta United put out a statement via their official Twitter account denying Velez's version of events, though they did confirm that they "retain an exclusive option to permanently transfer the player".

"We have seen reports about Thiago Almada," the Tweet read. "We have not committed to acquiring the player at this time; we can confirm that we retain an exclusive option to permanently transfer the player. The option extends into 2022. We will have no further comment on the player at this time."

Almada played the full 90 minutes of Velez's 0-0 draw with Patronato de Parana on Friday. After the match - their final home fixture of the season - he even gave a farewell speech as part of a send-off from the club in front of the supporters.

Opinion: What could be the cause behind the disagreement?

The situation with Almada bears a striking similarity to that of Atlanta United's transfer of Pity Martinez ahead of the 2019 season. River Plate announced a deal was done for the Argentina international as early as December 2018, but the Five Stripes waited until the sale of Miguel Almiron in January 2019.

Atlanta's move to pour cold water on the Almada deal could be due to the fact they already have three Designated Players (DP) on the books: Josef Martinez, Ezequiel Barco, and Luiz Araujo.

Given the size of the fee and his talent, Almada would also likely command a DP contract, taking Atlanta United over the maximum number of DPs allowed under MLS roster rules.

In this situation, they would either need to buy down an exisiting DPs contract, or sell them altogether. Martinez is an icon in Atlanta and Araujo has only just joined - neither are likely to be sold or bought down any time soon.

It's long been expected that Barco would leave the club this winter and his fine post-Olympics form will have surely bumped up his price. That said, Atlanta United would not appreciate their need to sell a DP being made public knowledge as it would leave them in a much weaker bargaining position.


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