Atlanta United reportedly pursuing coveted midfielder

Ecuador's Moises Caicedo celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal during a qualifying soccer match against Uruguay for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020, at the Casa Blanca stadium in Quito, Ecuador. (Jose Jacome/AP)
Ecuador's Moises Caicedo celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal during a qualifying soccer match against Uruguay for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020, at the Casa Blanca stadium in Quito, Ecuador. (Jose Jacome/AP)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Typically, I don’t report on Atlanta United’s rumored signings because there are so many of the reports and most of them don’t make sense for a variety of reasons.

However, this one is different and game-changing: The Five Stripes are reportedly competing with one of the world’s biggest clubs to sign Ecuadorian midfielder Moises Caicedo.

Roger Gonzalez of CBSSports was the first to report the link between Arthur Blank’s team and the 19-year-old midfielder.

It is not clear how deeply Manchester United is interested in signing Caicedo, a standout player for Independiente del Valle in his native country. Some reports have Manchester United offering more than $10 million, others around $4 million, and others write the Red Devils are not at all interested. (Hence more reasons why I typically don’t write about rumored signings).

Here is what is known: Caicedo is a box-to-box midfielder who would shore up one of Atlanta United’s biggest weaknesses last season at defensive midfielder. He has four caps for Ecuador’s senior team and has scored twice and is considered to be one of the up-and-coming players in South America.

How Atlanta United would sign him remains a bit unclear. Even if Atlanta United matched Manchester United’s bid of $4 million and it was accepted, Caicedo would become a Designated Player. MLS teams are allowed a maximum of three DPs. The team’s three DP slots are filled by Josef Martinez, Marcelino Moreno and Ezequiel Barco. Teams can buy down DPs under certain circumstances. Martinez and Barco can’t be bought down. It’s unclear if Moreno can because the MLSPA didn’t reveal player’s salaries during the 2020 season. DP slots can be opened by selling that player. Within the Collective Bargaining Agreement, currently being re-negotiated between the league and MLSPA after the owners exercised the Force Majeure clause in the deal, was a element that hadn’t been finalized but was going to allow teams to sign a “Young DP.”

In addition to the on-field benefit of signing Caicedo, beating a Premier League to sign him would be quite the coup for Atlanta United President Darren Eales and Vice President Carlos Bocanegra.

MLS teams just don’t beat out legitimately interested clubs in Europe to sign players, especially those with such promising potential.

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