Thiago Almada leaves Atlanta United in a shock transfer to Botafogo

Atlanta United surprised the MLS market by announcing the record sale of Thiago Almada to Botafogo
Jun 19, 2024; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Atlanta United midfielder Thiago Almada (10) leaves the field after the match against D.C. United at Audi Field. Mandatory Credit: Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 19, 2024; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Atlanta United midfielder Thiago Almada (10) leaves the field after the match against D.C. United at Audi Field. Mandatory Credit: Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports / Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

Soccer is a worldwide passion, and player transfers are like pieces of a great puzzle, where every move can change the game. And that's exactly what happened when Atlanta United announced the sale of midfielder Thiago Almada to Botafogo, from the Brazilian first division, for an MLS record fee. This transfer not only shook up the North American market, but also stirred up the expectations of fans in Brazil and Europe.

Thiago Almada, who was one of the stars of the 2022 FIFA World Cup with Argentina, arrived at Atlanta United in February 2022. At the time, his transfer from Vélez Sarsfield for US$16 million was already an MLS record. Almada, with his electrifying style of play, quickly won the hearts of Atlanta fans, tallying an impressive 23 goals and 33 assists in 77 regular season games. His ability to create plays and his vision of the game made him one of the most exciting players to watch in the league.

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However, as is common in the world of soccer, Almada's talents have not gone unnoticed. And now, he will wear Botafogo's alvinegra shirt, in a transfer that exceeds the deals of Alphonso Davies, who went to Bayern Munich, and Miguel Almirón, who moved to Newcastle United. This move not only reinforces the importance of the MLS as a breeding ground for talent, but also puts Botafogo in a privileged position on the Brazilian scene. According to some international media, Thiago Almada's transfer to Botafogo will bring in around 25 million dollars.

But that's not the end of the story. Reports indicate that Almada, just 23, is destined to take another big step in his career by moving to Lyon next winter. The French club is part of the Eagle Football Holdings group, led by John Textor, who also has stakes in Crystal Palace and Botafogo itself. This network of clubs gives Almada a global platform to showcase his talent, while continuing his development in one of Europe's most competitive leagues.

Carlos Bocanegra, Atlanta United's vice-president and technical director, highlighted the importance of this transfer for both the player and the club: "We spent more than a year recruiting Thiago to join Atlanta United and, during that process, we agreed that our club could provide a great platform to showcase his skills and that he would have the opportunity to continue his development until the time was right to move on to the next challenge." Almada has been a key part of Atlanta's success, receiving awards such as MLS Breakthrough Player of the Year in 2022 and MLS Young Player of the Year in 2023. His contribution to the team was invaluable, and his departure leaves a legacy that will be difficult to overcome, even more so immediately.

Internationally, Almada also made his mark. With one goal in four appearances for Argentina's senior team, he was alongside Lionel Messi in winning the Qatar 2022 World Cup. Now, he's set to captain La Albiceleste at the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, a testament to his skill and leadership on the pitch.

For Atlanta United, Almada's departure represents a challenge, but also an opportunity. With the recent transfer of Giorgos Giakoumakis to Cruz Azul of Liga MX for US$10 million, the club now has significant financial flexibility to reinvest in the team during the upcoming summer transfer window. Bocanegra has already made it clear that the scouting department is prepared for this change and that the search for new talent will be intense.

Interim coach Rob Valentino, who took over after the departure of Gonzalo Pineda, will have the task of guiding Atlanta United through this new phase. With the club currently in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, the pressure for results is high. However, the arrival of new reinforcements and the continued development of current players are crucial steps in keeping Atlanta United competitive in the MLS.

For Botafogo, Almada's arrival is a masterstroke. The Brazilian club, which was already on the rise, now has a player of international caliber to lead its midfield. Fans can expect more dynamic and creative soccer, with Almada bringing all his experience and talent to the team. And with the prospect of a future transfer to Lyon, Botafogo will also benefit financially and in terms of global visibility.

This transfer is a perfect example of how interconnected modern soccer is. Young players like Thiago Almada have the opportunity to develop in different leagues and countries, raising the level of the game worldwide. For clubs, these transfers represent both a challenge and an opportunity for growth and innovation.