Carlos Bocanegra says Caleb Wiley’s transfer from Atlanta United to Chelsea is close to completion

Atlanta United defender Caleb Wiley #26 scores a goal during the match against Philadelphia Union at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA on Sunday April 14, 2024. (Photo by Brandon Magnus/Atlanta United)

Credit: Brandon Magnus/Atlanta United

Credit: Brandon Magnus/Atlanta United

Atlanta United defender Caleb Wiley #26 scores a goal during the match against Philadelphia Union at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA on Sunday April 14, 2024. (Photo by Brandon Magnus/Atlanta United)

Caleb Wiley’s transfer for a reported $11 million to Chelsea is imminent, Atlanta United Vice President Carlos Bocanegra said on Tuesday before the team’s U.S. Open Cup match against Indy Eleven.

Wiley, 19 years old, already has 80 appearances with Atlanta United, and more than 100 when including his time with Atlanta United 2. He was in the starting lineup for Tuesday’s match.

“We are close to agreeing to something,” Bocanegra said. “He’s quite excited to be here and it’s emotional for him. He was quite keen to play. It does look like we have something in place imminently.”

Wiley will leave Atlanta United to join the U..S. Olympic team after Tuesday’s match. Men’s soccer in the Paris Games is scheduled to start July 24, and the gold medal match is scheduled to be played Aug. 9. The U.S. is scheduled to play France in Marseille on July 24, New Zealand in Marseille on July 27 and Guinea on July 30 in Saint-Etienne.

Bocanegra said it will be tough to fill Wiley’s slot because as a Homegrown his salary doesn’t count against Atlanta United’s salary budget.

Wiley was one of several topics Bocanegra discussed related to the transfer window, which opens July 18.

He said a report on Tuesday linking Atlanta United to Atalanta’s Aleksey Miranchuk was one of many that would likely come out as other teams look to move out some of their players. Bocanegra said they are speaking to 15 different players about possibly transferring in.

“Anybody that we have talked about, or our cousin’s friend’s sister has talked about, we will get linked to them right now,” he said. “I think, hopefully, something close to July 18 we will have more concrete news.”

Atlanta United has already signed fullback Pedro Amador and will attempt to sign two Designated Players to fill the slots vacated with the sells of Thiago Almada for at least $21 million and Giorgos Giakoumakis for $10 million. Bocanegra said he has received several trade offers for other players and that the roster may continue to be reshaped. He said other than the two DPs and Wiley, they would have to trade or sell players to create space.

“There’s a lot of interest in our players,” he said. “We don’t want to necessarily rip apart the team right now. We have some core guys that we’d like to continue with. But it’s something we evaluate and sometimes you have to make hard choices.”

Bocanegra said that the transfer of Giakoumakis was a combination of the team getting an offer too good to pass up and for the player getting a contract that was good for him. The club reportedly received $10 million from Cruz Azul, which was more than twice as much as Atlanta United paid Celtic for him. Giakoumakis’ salary reportedly doubled from the $2.25 million he was making with Atlanta United. Bocanegra said the team was engaged in contract negotiations with Giakoumakis before Cruz Azul’s offer.

Bocanegra said he understands the frustration that some supporters have expressed with the transferring out of key players. He said the transfers out aren’t a reflection of the team’s results. Bocanegra said he hopes that during the break in the MLS season that will be used to play Leagues Cup he hopes that the roster will be complete and the team can make a push in its final nine matches. Atlanta United is in 10th place in the East, one spot below the nine teams that qualify for the postseason.

“It’s tough for the players, it’s tough for the coaching staff, with the fan base, it’s a little frustrating even on our end,” he said. “The reality is, is sometimes we can’t control the timing of these transfers, and our window does not open until July. So this is one of the things that most clubs have to deal with, our windows do not align with all the other windows around the world. And so the timing doesn’t always match up perfectly.”

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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 Real Salt Lake 5, Atlanta United 2

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.