One of the most compelling Major League Soccer offseason stories revolves around its newest champion.
Atlanta United faces an intriguing selling process with midfielder Miguel Almiron, who has generated interest from Europe for quite some time.
Amid reports about offers for the 24-year-old Paraguayan, Atlanta United president Darren Eales confirmed the club hasn’t received any offers for the player and won’t consider it unless it starts with a 3.
While it’s an ambitious number for Eales and Co. to wait for, Almiron could be worth upwards of $30 million in the inflated Premier League market that’s ripe with television money.
Realistically, Almiron should be sold a bit under the price tag the Five Stripes have set, but it’ll only get to that point once negotiations are initiated by a potential suitor for the Paraguayan and the MLS club.
In the meantime, the Five Stripes have every reason to be patient as the transfer market develops.
In the worst-case scenario, Atlanta has Almiron in the fold for the start of the Concacaf Champions League, and he’ll be playing alongside Pity Martinez, who appears to be on his way to the southeast from Argentina.
That’s not a bad worst-case scenario for the recently-crowned MLS Cup champion, as it would carry the best attack in the league by far with Martinez, Almiron and MLS Golden Boot and MVP winner Josef Martinez up top.
In that situation, the Five Stripes would have to get creative with their salary structure because of the limitations on Designated Players and players bought with Targeted Allocation Money, but clearing Greg Garza off the books in a trade to FC Cincinnati certainly helps their cause if they end up keeping Almiron.
Atlanta is expected to approach the 2019 campaign with even more ambition than its first two years of existence because of the lofty goals within reach on a continental, and potentially international, stage.
The Five Stripes are going to need all hands on deck from the start of the Concacaf Champions League, with Herediano on deck for the Round of 16 and a potential clash with Monterrey in the quarterfinals.
That’s why securing the signature of Pity Martinez is important, as he’ll be able to integrate himself into the group as soon as possible, especially with a new manager in charge.
Speaking of the new manager, the Five Stripes should worry about crossing that off their checklist before diving into the transfer market.
Once the new boss is secured and the January transfer window opens, they should see more action on Almiron, especially if teams in Europe miss out on their initial targets and get a bit more desperate for additions.
No matter what happens with Almiron, patience will reward Atlanta entering the 2019 season.
Either the Five Stripes don’t receive what they think is an acceptable bid for Almiron and keep him around for a little longer, or they sell the Paraguayan for a record MLS transfer fee and reinvest that money in a few other players that will play a key role during the 2019 season.
Either way, it’s good to be Atlanta United right now.