With the news that Atlanta United might pay seven figures for a player that might never see the field, it’s very possible we’ve gotten a look at the club’s future plans.
The idea of dropping almost $2 million to maybe/maybe not bring in Lucas Rodriguez from Estudiantes in Argentina comes on the heels of word that The Five Stripes may have also spent money to lock down three players from Newell’s Old Boys (Milton Valenzuela, Brian Gambarte, Mauricio Tevez).
These moves are aimed at the future as all the players in question are young and may or may not be ready to contribute right now. The money already paid would reportedly go towards any transfer fees the team would have to pay later, should Atlanta complete the deals. It is also believed the money paid would not count against the salary cap.
While Atlanta’s willingness to spend big is not news, this might be a new kind of big spending.
Atlanta could be setting the groundwork for a pipeline to Argentina like MLS has never seen. We could be looking at a system where Atlanta doesn’t just grab a player here or there but instead starts developing relationships with clubs all around the country as a place for their youth to go and continue their development.
Think of it as a college football program building a pipeline to a specific state and trying to ensure they get the best talent from the area. Granted, Atlanta has a distinct advantage over other clubs as long as Argentine Manager Tata Martino is at the helm. We could see a future where the players leave Argentine clubs and come to Atlanta with the hopes of being the next Miguel Almiron or Josef Martinez; primed to jump to Europe for fame and riches.
Throw in the rumors that Atlanta United is looking to add a USL team as soon as possible, and suddenly you have a club that could be adding young players while giving them a place to play and develop immediately.
Atlanta has made it clear that they want to be an international name and becoming a staple in Argentina would be a big step in that development. More importantly, Atlanta wouldn’t just become a staple to Argentine clubs, but to kids of all ages in the country as an option and a goal to further their development.
This isn’t the MLS 3.0 that people expected; Atlanta United might be on the way to firing up MLS 4.0.