Atlanta United sets MLS transfer record with sale of Thiago Almada

Atlanta United midfielder Thiago Almada #10 kicks the ball during the match against the Toronto FC at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA on Saturday June 29, 2024. (Photo by  Madelaina Polk/Atlanta United)

Credit: Madelaina Polk/Atlanta United

Credit: Madelaina Polk/Atlanta United

Atlanta United midfielder Thiago Almada #10 kicks the ball during the match against the Toronto FC at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA on Saturday June 29, 2024. (Photo by Madelaina Polk/Atlanta United)

SALT LAKE CITY — Thiago Almada’s time with Atlanta United is over.

The MLS club and Botafogo in Brazil announced the transfer of the playmaking midfielder Saturday. As reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution last week, Atlanta United will receive an MLS-record $21 million, and that total could increase to $30 million if incentives are met. The $21 million surpasses the previous record, also set by Atlanta United, when it sold Miguel Almiron to Newcastle for a base price of $19 million before the 2019 season.

Per MLS rules, 95% of the proceeds from the Almada transfer can be reinvested by Atlanta United in its pursuit of another Designated Player. The club can spend more money on the signing if needed.

Almada said after the team’s 2-1 win against Toronto that his biggest regret was not helping Atlanta United win a trophy in his two-plus seasons. He said he felt that he developed as a player and person with the team.

“The culture at Atlanta United helped me a lot, also my teammates,” he said. “So I think it was a good step in my career. I got called up to the national team ... and went to the World Cup.”

Almada, 23 years old, is the only active MLS player to be on a World Cup-winning squad. He was with Argentina in 2022 in Qatar. He wasn’t called into the Copa America team this year that will play Canada in the semifinals.

Almada is expected to go to France to play for Argentina in the Olympics and then join Botafogo in its attempt to win Serie A. It trails Flamengo by three points after 14 matches. Almada then is expected to go to Lyon in France. Eagle Football Holdings owns both clubs.

Atlanta United purchased Almada for a reported fee of $16 million from Velez Sarsfield in Argentina before the 2022 season. He finished with 24 goals and 34 assists in 79 regular-season and playoff appearances in his career with the club.

Atlanta United has sold two players, striker Giorgos Giakoumakis and Almada, in this window for a combined $31 million. Additionally, there was a report from South American journalist CL Merlo on Friday that Spartak Moscow has put in a $16 million bid to River Plate for Ezequiel Barco, a former Atlanta United player. There was a sell-on percentage negotiated into the deal between Atlanta United and River when he was loaned in 2022 and sold before the 2023 season. Atlanta United hasn’t yet said what that sell-on percentage is. Atlanta United paid $15 million to Independiente for him before the 2018 season.

Atlanta United has signed one fullback, Pedro Amador. President Garth Lagerwey said the team is trying to sign another striker. It presumably also will try to sign Almada’s replacement during the coming window, which will open July 18 and close Aug. 14. Atlanta United Vice President Carlos Bocanegra is expected to speak to journalists Monday during the team’s training ahead of Tuesday’s match against Indy Eleven in the U.S. Open Cup.

“We spent more than a year recruiting Thiago to join Atlanta United and during that process we agreed that our club could provide a great platform to showcase his abilities, and he would have the opportunity to continue his development until the time was right for him to move on to the next challenge,” Bocanegra said in a statement provided by the club.

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Atlanta United’s 2024 schedule

Feb. 24 Columbus 1, Atlanta United 0

March 9 Atlanta United 4, New England 1

March 17 Atlanta United 2, Orlando 0

March 23 Toronto 2, Atlanta United 0

March 31 Atlanta United 3, Chicago 0

April 6 Atlanta United 1, NYCFC 1

April 14 Atlanta United 2, Philadelphia 2

April 20 Cincinnati 2, Atlanta United 1

April 27 Atlanta United 1, Chicago 1

May 4 Minnesota 2, Atlanta United 1

May 7 Atlanta United 3, Charlotte Independence 0 in U.S. Open Cup

May 11 D.C. United 3, Atlanta United 2

May 15 Cincinnati 1, Atlanta United 0

May 18 Atlanta United 1, Nashville 1

May 21 Atlanta United 0 (5), Charleston 0 (4) in U.S. Open Cup

May 25 LAFC 1, Atlanta United 0

May 29 Atlanta United 3, Miami 1

June 2 Charlotte 3, Atlanta United 2

June 15 Atlanta United 2, Houston 2

June 19 Atlanta United 1, D.C. United 0

June 22 Atlanta United 1, St. Louis 1

June 29 Atlanta United 2, Toronto 1

July 3 New England 2, Atlanta United 1

July 6 at Real Salt Lake, 9:30 p.m.

July 9 vs. Indy Eleven in U.S. Open Cup

July 13 at Montreal, 7:30 p.m.

July 17 vs. NYCFC, 7:30 p.m.

July 20 vs. Columbus, 7:30 p.m.

July 26 vs. D.C. United in Leagues Cup, 7:30 p.m.

Aug. 4 vs. Santos Laguna in Leagues Cup, 4 p.m.

Aug. 24 at L.A. Galaxy, 10:30 p.m.

Aug. 31 at Charlotte, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 14 vs. Nashville, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 18 vs. Miami, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 21 at Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 28 at Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 2 vs. Montreal, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 5 vs. Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 19 at Orlando, 6 p.m.