Pity Atlanta United -- It completes biggest signing yet but must unload one of its stars

Atlanta United signed Gonzalo “Pity” Martinez, voted the 2018 Rey de America as the best player in the Americas, in one of the biggest signings in MLS history.

After signing Miguel Almiron from Lanus in 2017 and Ezequiel Barco from Independiente, the Five Stripes again showed off their ability to attract top talent in the Superliga Argentina.

Martinez, who led River Plate to the 2018 Copa Libertadores, would be considered the best of trio. Since joining River Plate, he has won two Copa Libertadores titles (2015 and 2018), two Copa Argentina titles (2015-16 and 2016-17) and one Supercopa Argentina (2017).

The 25-year-old attacking midfielder, who cost an estimated $14 million, arrives in the prime of his career and ready to play for Atlanta United after saying it was the club that trusted in him.

But there's one catch.

Atlanta United needs to be roster compliant by March, which means it must unload Almiron or Barco get down to three Designated Players. (It just signed 2018 MVP Josef Martinez to a long-term contract so he is going nowhere.)

The assumption was Almiron would be sold to a club in England during the January window, but there have been no takers yet for Atlanta United's reported asking price of $30 million. That is not surprising since not all big European clubs spend mid-season on the winter market.

Almiron, an MLS Best XI pick in 2017 and 2018, could stay until the summer -- and then move when a suitable buyer is found on the more active primary window for European clubs.

That leaves Barco as the alternative move. Barco, who was acquired for a reported $15 million, was not a factor in Atlanta United's playoff run to an MLS title, finishing with four goals and three assists in 26 games. His playing time declined after a mid-season suspension for an off-the-field incident.

One option would be to loan Barco, who is still only 19, for the 2019 season, but the team to which he went would have to pay his whole salary in order for Atlanta United to be freed of his DP designation.

5 comments about "Pity Atlanta United -- It completes biggest signing yet but must unload one of its stars".
  1. Ronnie L, January 24, 2019 at 10:15 p.m.

    It's sad to see all that amazing Latin talents on the team and no decent manager to manage them. It's going to be a tough season for Atlanta  

  2. Ben Myers, January 24, 2019 at 11:23 p.m.

    A one-hit wonder, like the Tom Hanks movie?

  3. Bob Ashpole, January 25, 2019 at 12:34 a.m.

    Wonderful signing. Undeniably a star player coming to MLS at age 25. Hopefully the first of more in the future.

    I guess this will be the year of manager bashing in the Soccer America forums.

    Did they change the rules so teams cannot trade DP slots? 

  4. Bob Ashpole replied, January 25, 2019 at 12:36 a.m.

    PS: I am tempted to start watching MLS matches again.

  5. frank schoon replied, January 25, 2019 at 6:50 a.m.

    Bob, that’s two of us :)

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