Atlanta United’s Gressel doesn’t want to talk about contract

October 24, 2019 Atlanta: Atlanta United midfielder Julian Gressel passes the ball around Philadelphia defender Kai Wagner in the Eastern Conference semifinals of the MLS playoffs on Thursday, October 24, 2019, in Atlanta.   Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

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October 24, 2019 Atlanta: Atlanta United midfielder Julian Gressel passes the ball around Philadelphia defender Kai Wagner in the Eastern Conference semifinals of the MLS playoffs on Thursday, October 24, 2019, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

Atlanta United’s Julian Gressel gave a preemptive statement about his contract situation before starting his first interview ahead of the 2020 Champions League and MLS seasons on Friday:

“Obviously I have kind of a feeling of what you guys want to ask. I think I’m in a position where at the moment I don’t want to speak about my current contract situation. I’ve said something a lot in the past and that stands, that’s valid. I have nothing to really add at that moment. That’s the truth.

“Obviously I want a resolution to this as soon as possible, but that’s for my agent and the club to work out. I don’t want this to be hanging over our heads in preseason. I don’t think that’s fair to our club and to our team and especially not fair to our teammates where I don’t want them to get dragged into this. We want to get ready and prepare for a fast approaching and difficult start to the season.

“That’s where I stand and what I think. It’s something I hope you can respect. I’m sorry that there’s not more info at the moment. That’s just it.”

Gressel, who is in the last year of a contract that pays him $130,000, said he would have said what he did even if there appeared to be a pending resolution to the negotiations.

“Probably, yeah,” he said. “I didn’t want to go back into what we had at the end of last season where it was questions, answers, questions, answers. I just felt like at this point I’ve said my stuff and want the club and my agent to figure it out and move forward.”

Gressel said he is training with the team instead of holding out because he wants to help his teammates.

“I think we are all here to get ready for the season. That’s me included. It wouldn’t be fair to my teammates to do something other than that. I think they understand my situation and support me, and I’m grateful for that. I don’t want it to affect them in  any negative way. That’s why I’m here, and I want to train and want to be here with these guys.”

Gressel scored 15 goals with 35 assists in league games the past three seasons.

Atlanta United President Darren Eales has implied that the team may present Gressel with a new contract once the collective bargaining agreement negotiations are complete. The current CBA expires Jan. 31.