Report: Atlanta “playing poker” over Almiron

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Atlanta United seems prepared to ride out the January window in the hopes that it lands a better deal for Miguel Almiron.

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Atlanta president Darren Eales had made it clear that he wouldn’t be accepting any offer that doesn’t start with a 3, and West Ham initially was linked with interest in a $33 million Almiron move.

Newcastle United has been consistently linked with Almiron, but for no more than $19 million. Eales and Atlanta have stayed consistent in their stance.

Here’s South American football writer Tim Vickery, via The Chronicle:

“They have done very, very well out of him and it seems at the moment they are playing poker. They are prepared to wait until the end of the window to try and get the best deal possible for him. …

“So they have lined up a replacement and now it is all about playing poker until the closing of the transfer window, hoping that either they can get a better deal from Newcastle or they can smoke out some other interest.”

The end of the January window is moving closer. Atlanta has its Almiron replacement in the form of Pity Martinez, who is in the United States as the worst-kept secret in recent MLS history (although Ezequiel Barco, one of Atlanta’s other recent DPs, had a similar arc in his arrival).

Atlanta’s path toward selling Almiron and getting down to the MLS maximum of four Designated Players is a fascinating one. Clearly the club has a plan should no one reach their asking price, but what if famously-stingy Newcastle won’t budge any higher or, even worse, pulls out of the running?

Again, fascinating. And Atlanta is playing high stakes games with one of the most alluring transfer assets in the league.

As for Newcastle, you could make a Best XI with the players initially linked with the Magpies before the club balked at the fee and let another Premier League club buy the player: Michy Batshuayi, Alexandre Lacazette, Virgil Van Dijk, Dele Alli, Mohamed Salah

Almiron’s success in the Premier League is a big question mark, not because of talent or drive but because of size. There’s an air of uncertainty that comes with attackers coming from lesser leagues, and — even for Newcastle — it’s somewhat forgivable that the club isn’t rushing to meet the Five Stripes’ asking price.