Clarifying Andres Guardado and Atlanta United

Atlanta United manager Gerardo Martino shed some light on the Andres Guardado rumors that persisted from the 2015 Gold Cup until the signing of Josef Martinez two weeks ago.

In the days of the Gold Cup semifinals at the Georgia Dome two summers ago, ESPN reported that Atlanta United was interested in signing Guardado, a standout on the Mexican national team and for PSV Eindhoven in Holland. Mexico was one of four teams that were playing in the Dome, so the timing of the report made some sense.

While every MLS team seems perpetually interested in trying to sign standouts on the Mexican team, after speaking to a couple of people, one being Guardado, I was a little skeptical of that initial report. Guardado seemed genuinely surprised to be possibly tied to Atlanta United, and also flattered, but nothing tangible happened.

Still, the reports persisted for the next few months. Atlanta United consistently declined to comment, other than president Darren Eales saying that the team preferred to pursue Designated Players who could possibly be sold at a profit. He wanted to avoid dead money situations of buying veterans who couldn’t be sold. Guardado is 30.

👏 pic.twitter.com/QmcOaAVhKS— PSV International (@psveindhoven) December 20, 2016

Guardado’s comments were typically along the lines of, “I’ve heard they were interested, but we haven’t been contacted.”

Martino may have explained why on Thursday:

“In reality this is something I’ve already talked about. He was one of the players that the team directors had discussed with me since the first day of the possibility of his arrival.

“A player of his hierarchy would have been a DP (Designated Player), so we began to evaluate other options at DPs and what area of the field we would like to use those DPs.

“It’s clear we opted to go for attacking players.”

The quote comes from Martino through a translator, so the context may not be 100 percent correct. But, it seems that the team did have an interest. If Martino was being prepped for the possibility of Guardado’s arrival, it seems that some sort of negotiations with Guardado’s agents did take place, but obviously nothing happened because the team instead signed Hector Villalba, Miguel Almiron and Martinez. It has no more DP slots available.

That doesn’t mean that Guardado couldn’t eventually join the team by buying down the contracts of one of the other players using Targeted Allocation Money, but it doesn’t seem likely.