Amid reports on Monday of interest in him from Boca Juniors in his native Argentina, Leandro Gonzalez Pirez on Monday said that he is happy playing for Atlanta United.
Gonzalez Pirez, 26, said he was notified of the report by friends who live in Argentina. He said “maybe” that reps from Atlanta United and Boca Juniors are talking. He wasn’t sure. Atlanta United declined to comment, citing its policy of not commenting on speculative reports.
“I’m very happy here,” Gonzalez Pirez said. “Boca is a big challenge in my country. Whatever they decide, it’s OK.”
Gonzalez Pirez stressed that his family is also happy in Atlanta and pointed out that his daughter is an American.
However, Gonzalez Pirez is in the last year of his contract with Atlanta United. He said if he is to continue playing for Atlanta United, the club and his agent need to discuss an option or new contract. His guaranteed salary in 2018 was $685,004, according to the MLS Players Association database.
“I’m trying to think about here,” he said. “Now, I’m playing for Atlanta United. This is the most important for me. It’s a big club that wants me, but I’m try to think here.”
Should Gonzalez Pirez be sold, Atlanta United has some cover at centerback with Miles Robinson and Franco Escobar. However, with the number of games the team is facing with the CONCACAF Champions League, league season and U.S. Open Cup, depth would still be a concern.
Gonzalez Pirez finished fourth in last year’s MLS Defender of the Year voting after making 32 starts during the regular season for the league champs. A mix of toughness and skill, Gonzalez Pirez has formed a strong partnership with Michael Parkhurst in the center of Atlanta United’s backline. Gonzalez Pirez has made 64 starts in the past two seasons after being purchased from Estudiantes in Argentina.
Gonzalez Pirez grew up playing in the academy of River Plate, Boca Junior’s fiercest rival. He made 38 appearances for the River Plate’s first team from 2011-15. He indicated that it wouldn’t be a problem to play for Boca Juniors should an agreement be reached with Atlanta United.
“This is a job,” he said. “It’s a big challenge for me in my career. Of course, I would take it.”