He joins Villalba, goalkeeper Alex Tambakis, midfielders Junior Burgos, Andrew Carleton, Chris Goslin and Chris McCann, and forwards Kenwyne Jones, Jeffrey Otoo and Brandon Vazquez as Atlanta United’s first signings. The club is expected to complete trades with Philadelphia for midfielder Kevin Kratz and has also reportedly agreed to a trade with Chicago for goalkeeper Sean Johnson when the window opens on Dec. 11. Atlanta United has confirmed the Kratz trade, but not the Johnson trade.
The signing of Almira seems to be another sign of Atlanta United’s intent to purchase younger, versatile players.
Club President Darren Eales has said many times that he wants to build around younger players, including those from the academy. Tambakis is 23 years old, Villalba is 22, Otoo and Vazquez are 18 and Carleton and Goslin, signed as Homegrown Players from Atlanta United’s academy, are 16.
The advantages of the strategy are those players typically are less expensive to sign than the higher-profile Designated Players, a path other MLS teams such as New York City FC and Orlando City have taken with players such as Kaka, Andrea Pirlo, David Villa and Frank Lampard.
Should the younger players fulfill their potential, they can help Atlanta United possibly enjoy sustained success. Eales told an anecdote during a dinner this summer for the academy players about his previous club, Tottenham Hotspur in England’s Premier League. That team features several players who came up through its academy when Eales was there. Spurs finished third in the Premier League last season and is fifth this season.
The other advantage for Atlanta United is that the team/MLS can potentially sell the players at a much higher price for a larger profit when they are younger, compared to when they become older veterans.