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Why Atlanta United Will Be Forced to Sell Almiron This January

In order to officially sign their Miguel Almiron replacement, Atlanta United must get rid of Miguel Almiron, and will be desperate to do so

2018 MLS Cup - Portland Timbers v Atlanta United
Saturday Night was a fun one for Miggy and his friends
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Miguel Almiron has been the hottest name in Atlanta, the MLS and Newcastle as the young Paraguayan has dominated the top tier of American soccer and is a transfer target of Newcastle United.

After winning the MLS cup with Atlanta United this weekend in a commanding fashion, the midfielder is set to leave in January with his destination being England. From what we know Miguel wants to play in the premier league, and reportedly wants to play a lot of minutes. This narrows his list of potential teams down to essentially mid table sides in the Premier League, none of which need his services more than Newcastle.

Darren Eales was quick to debunk the rumors that a deal had been agreed upon to loan Almiron out to Newcastle in January with an option to buy. Eales made it clear that the club intends to sell the midfielder for a lot of money.

”If it’s a proper, serious offer then it’s something we would consider, but not for the laughable figures that I have seen mentioned in the press.”

The other news regarding this transfer saga is that River Plate’s Gonzalo “Pity” Martinez confirmed the transfer rumors that were swirling earlier this year that he was Miguel Almiron’s replacement. The winger confirmed after River Plate’s Copa Libertadores win that he would be joining Atlanta United after his club’s match in the Club World Cup. Pity spoke to TyC Sports after the match going on to explain that unlike European Clubs, Atlanta gave him a chance and that he is very fond of the league.

I want to inform the fans that in January I will not continue [with the club]. It is a very difficult decision for me, but the road continues. I think that I gave the fans what they deserve and it is everything that they believed in me. I am going to play the Club World Cup. [Atlanta] is the club that trusted in me. European clubs didn’t trust [in me] in the moment. I thought about it a lot with my family, with my representative. It’s a league that’s grown a lot and I hope to continue making history with this club.

The fee is rumored to be around $17 million, and like I said this is not anything new. This was in fact first reported 2 months ago, and is such common knowledge that players of Atlanta United were openly commenting on the transfer months ago.

Martinez confirming the deal publicly, signifying that the deal is done in principal, puts Atlanta in a tough spot. With the CONCACAF Champions league coming up in just a couple months, and a short transfer window, Atlanta will need to sell Almiron as soon as they can to make sure Pity Martinez actually makes it to Atlanta in time to play.

The issue surrounding Pity’s transfer is not about funding the move. Atlanta has proven already that they have the capital to buy players around the same price tag. The issue is that Atlanta doesn’t currently have a roster spot for him.

2012 MLS Cup - Houston Dynamo v Los Angeles Galaxy
The Beckham Rule is what complicates things for Atlanta united
Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Unlike the rest of the world, the MLS has a salary cap, and with it comes a bunch of really weird rules. The most famous rule of them all is called the Designated Player Rule, affectionately known as “the Beckham Rule”. The rule was created in 2007 as a way to encourage and ensure teams brought talent to the MLS with David Beckham being the star that created such a rule. The rule allows teams to pay players a lot more money than other players in the league by allowing teams to negotiate deals with designated players that are beyond the MLS salary cap.

Essentially this rule allows teams to go out and convince players to play for them by allowing the teams to offer them way more money than they would normally make in MLS. The rule was initially used to attract talent such as David Beckham and Thierry Henry to come play in the league, but the role of the DP slot has since changed.

Since the rule was changed in 2012 to allow up to 3 Designated Players, teams now use it to attract young talent to woo them away from Mexico or Europe, protect your best American players such as Michael Bradley, and still to bring in big names from Europe. Current DPs are players such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney, Giovanni Dos Santos, Carlos Vela, Josef Martinez, Ezequiel Barco and Miguel Almiron.

It is a confusing rule that has vastly improved the quality of talent in the MLS, and if you are interested int he specifics of the rule the league has published a detailed explanation of it here.

Atlanta’s issue is that Pity Martinez would be a designated player, and the last 3 guys I named as examples of current designated players all play for Atlanta United. Barco, Martinez and Almiron take up all 3 of Atlanta United’s designated player spots, and in order to sign Pity Martinez, one of the 3 has to be sold. Given the situations of Josef Martinez and Barco, Miguel must be sold for Pity Martinez join the club.

Josef Martinez has established himself as the greatest striker in the league possibly ever, and he has already announced publicly that he wants to stay in Atlanta. Barco was a signing Atlanta made last season, shattering the transfer record of the MLS to do so for a 19-year-old Argentine. Barco has had a slow start, including missing game time due to an awkward locker room situation, that has led his transfer value to actually decline after one season in the MLS. Atlanta is keen on hanging on to him because they think he could be their next big outgoing transfer, behind Miguel Almiron.

2018 MLS Cup - Portland Timbers v Atlanta United
Martinez is coming off of a season where he was named MLS All star MVP, won the Golden Boot, broke multiple Goalscoring records, won the League MVP, won the MLS Cup, won the MLS Cup MVP and was named player of the year... he’s content staying in Atlanta
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Almiron wants to play in England and has already expressed interest in leaving the club. The pressure is on the club to make this happen, especially considering they need his contract off the books in order to sign Pity Martinez. Pity will be stuck in Argentina if Miguel is not sold, as it would be highly unlikely he will accept a contract within the very low MLS salary cap. A lack of sale regarding Almiron puts the club in awkward position as they have been preparing for life without Miguel Almiron, which of course is evident with their “done deal” for Pity Martinez

This could mean that Atlanta end up selling the Paraguayan for lower than they anticipated in order to get him to a Premier League club. This allows Newcastle to be in a prime position to negotiate a lower price (that would still break our transfer record) for the attacking midfielder.

All that is known now is that the club need to sell him in order to make the Martinez signing work, Miguel wants to go to a club where he can play, and all the parties involved all want Miguel in Europe by the end of January.