Atlanta United has officially signed 21-year-old Argentine forward, Hector "Tito" Villalba.
The winger becomes the club's first Designated Player after long being linked to MLS, specifically, Atlanta United. It has been reported that the club paid a transfer fee to San Lorenzo that ranges between $2-2.5 million.
"Hector is an exciting player, and one of the top young talents in Argentina," said Atlanta United technical director Carlos Bocanegra. "He is a powerful, pacey attacking player who can play out wide or up top. We really like his competitive and industrious style."
It's been reported by various outlets that he'll spend the next six months on loan before joining Atlanta in December. Villalba told the San Lorenzo En La Uno radio program last night that the loan was to Tijuana of Liga MX.
"We're thrilled to have Hector's signature. He has a high fitness capacity and an eye for goal," said Bocanegra. "We think he will fit in perfectly within our system and within the MLS style of play."
Villalba has been rumored to Atlanta United since early June. Originally from Buenos Aires, he's spent his entire career with San Lorenzo, a youth career that started in 2004. In 2012, Villalba joined the senior team and made 89 appearances with 15 goals in four years.
"We're very happy to have Hector signed with our club," said Atlanta United president Darren Eales. "We've been monitoring him for a long time and really like his talent and pedigree. He's a young DP who already has a lot of experience at the top level of the game and has exceptional potential to develop further. Hector is moving into the prime of his career, so it's exciting for us and for the future of the league that he has chosen to join Atlanta United and play in MLS."
In 2015, Villalba netted six goals in 27 appearances. More recently, the winger was linked to Boca Juniors, but the deal fell through during negotiations. The San Lorenzo product wanted the club to be compensated for the transfer, a figure Boca Juniors management seemingly did not agree with.
Villalba has Argentine and Paraguayan parents and isn't cap-tied to either national team.
Welcome to Atlanta, Hector!