Atlanta United’s Gonzalez Pirez drawing interest from LIGA MX club

Atlanta United defender Leandro Gonzalez Perez has his header bounce off the goal post just missing a goal against the Seattle Sounders during the second half in a MLS soccer match on Sunday, July 15, 2018, in Atlanta.     Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

caption arrowCaption
Atlanta United defender Leandro Gonzalez Perez has his header bounce off the goal post just missing a goal against the Seattle Sounders during the second half in a MLS soccer match on Sunday, July 15, 2018, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Club Tijuana in Mexico is interested in purchasing Atlanta United’s Leandro Gonzalez Pirez. According to a person with knowledge of the situation, the player doesn’t know what is going to happen.

The club’s interest was first reported by Argentinian journalist Cesar Luis Merlo. Neither Atlanta United nor Gonzalez Pirez would comment on the report.

Gonzalez Pirez has been a wanted player since joining Atlanta United. Boca Juniors in his native Argentina reportedly tried to acquire him during the 2018-19 offseason. There remains several annual options on his contract, Atlanta United Technical Director Carlos Bocanegra said last month.

Gonzalez Pirez, 27, has been one of the best centerbacks in MLS the past three seasons. He finished top five in Defender of the Year voting in 2017 and 2018, in which he helped the team win the MLS Cup. He also helped the club win the U.S. Open Cup and Campeones Cup last season. He was also named an All-Star in 2019.

Gonzalez Pirez’s skill in bringing the ball up field to contribute to the offense, or his ability to hit a long, diagonal pass to turn defense into offense is something most MLS clubs don’t have.

The knock against Gonzalez Pirez is his temper. He has received 29 yellow cards during 95 appearances the past three seasons.

Gonzalez Pirez received $810,008 in guaranteed compensation last season. That may seem like a high salary, but many MLS clubs are paying top dollar for quality centerbacks. Minnesota’s Ike Opara recently received a new contract that pays him at least $567,000, according to published reports. The Red Bulls’ Tim Parker and Aaron Long received more than $1.5 million in guaranteed combined compensation in 2019.

Gonzalez Pirez doesn’t count as an International player because he has received his green card.

Gonzalez Pirez has a value of almost $3 million, according to the website transfermarkr.co.uk. 

Should the club sell Gonzalez Pirez, its remaining centerbacks are Miles Robinson, Franco Escobar and George Campbell, who will be a rookie in 2020.