The $13 million-plus agreement to sell Alphonso Davies from Vancouver in MLS to Bayern Munich could have a seismic effect on Atlanta United.
Not only is it the largest transfer of a player out of MLS, not only is that player being sold to one of the greatest clubs in world soccer, but it likely will set the price for some of Atlanta United’s young players who are constantly rumored to be on the verge of being sold.
Though selling either Miguel Almiron or Josef Martinez isn't going to happen anytime soon, according to Atlanta United President Darren Eales, the Whitecaps selling the 17-year-old Davies and the interest being shown to Atlanta United's players is going to help the league.
“When any player is getting exported for that kind of price, you can’t help but notice it and it can’t help but raise the profile of the league,” Atlanta United’s Chris McCann said of Davies. “Along with the incoming talent in the league like (Wayne) Rooney and (Zlatan) Ibrahimovic ... it’s really developing. I’ve seen it over the past year. This transfer can only draw more attention to the league and promoting it in a good way.”
Players have transferred from MLS, but nothing like what the German giants are reportedly paying for the young Canadian star. The previous record for an MLS sale was the $7.7 million Villarreal paid for Jozy Altidore in 2008-09. Interest in Almiron has seen rumored prices of as much as $20 million.
Most of the remaining big-money transactions involving MLS and its teams have been as buys. Atlanta United’s acquisitions of 24-year-old Miguel Almiron for $8.8 million from Lanus in Argentina and 19-year-old Ezequiel Barco for $15 million from Independiente in Argentina are the two most expensive in MLS history. They have helped the league flip the narrative of it being interested in the old and nearly done, which had been the case with signings like Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Andrea Pirlo.
Now, the league and its teams can take more steps toward becoming known as those that develop players before smartly selling them for handsome profits.
There are plenty of leagues in countries around the world that have become adept at that practice. Teams and leagues in Portugal, Holland, Argentina and Brazil are a few.
The U.S. and Canada with MLS could be next.
“Unless you come here, you don’t realize the amount of potential and talent that this league actually has,” McCann said. “People going for this kind of money shows that there is real quality and real talent in this league.
“If people took notice a little bit more, rather than just the stigma in England and Ireland that this league is old – if you put away that kind of notion and realize that you’d better take a look at this league because there will be a lot more players like Alphonso Davies coming through. Plenty of talent around the league.”
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