Traditionally viewed as a retirement league, MLS was once a place where former stars ended their careers in comfort as household names. Some young players would show off here at times but the majority of big moves involved saw former stars coming stateside. That has all changed in the last few years as more young players – a large number from Central and South America – have made the jump to MLS with hopes of spring-boarding their way to Europe. This caused the quality of play to increase and teams have had to adjust. One of the final pieces for the next era of MLS is outgoing transfers involving silly money.
Enter Miguel Almiron.
Almiron has been the subject of transfer rumors recently that would see him land anywhere from England to Italy in January and if reports are to be believed, Atlanta may have already declined offers over the Summer. Though fans may want to keep the Paraguayan playmaker, let’s be clear about something: It’s not if Almiron moves; it’s when.
Almiron was brought into Atlanta for roughly $8 million, a substantial number for MLS. Anything short of double that would be disappointing for Atlanta United and it’s not out of the realm of possibility that they could triple that number before it’s all said and done. Had Paraguay qualified for the World Cup (their dreams ended literally minutes before the United States’ did) a good display in Russia could have pushed that number to more absurd heights.
When Coach Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino came to Atlanta and started building the roster with young and exciting players, it was understood that they would improve themselves here before moving on to make big money on bigger stages. Moving Almiron for anything more than twice his cost has to be considered a fantastic success for the club and speaks to the work done by the scouting department and front office. Almiron’s success at his next stop could do wonders for Atlanta as a destination in the Western Hemisphere for young exciting talent.
The next move would be just as important as Atlanta would surely go scout another potential star to repeat the process with. At that point the MLS 3.0 Death Star would be operating at full power, signing and cultivating stars like an ACME factory while pumping out homegrown players that create a team built to thrive in a financially tricky league like MLS.
If we’re placing bets as of right now I’m betting Almiron stays through the January window (no, this report had no impact on my judgement, why do you ask?) and plays the entire 2018 season in Atlanta. There’s a slim chance he could move during the Summer window but I would bet that that would require money north of $30 million and Atlanta having a move lined up to fill the massive void that would be left in the midfield. After the 2018 season though? I would expect the January window to be filled with Almiron rumors daily. It will be a sad day when he’s gone, but the tale of Miguel Almiron is the first necessary step in Atlanta’s quest to be a global club.
Oh, by the way, the largest transfer in MLS history was Jozy Altidore – everyone’s current favorite heel – moving from New York Red Bulls to Villareal in 2008 for around $10 million and Almiron is most likely going to obliterate that number one day.
But then again, there’s nothing new about Atlanta shattering MLS records.