Cesar Luis Merlo is reporting for Super Sports that Liga MX’s Club Tijuana are currently negotiating for the signing of Atlanta United center back Leandro Gonzalez Pirez. Merlo reports that the talks come on the heels of Xolos dropping out of negotiations for a previously sought after player (although not a defender) in Antonio Bareiro. The report also states that Xolos is also pursuing another center back in Saul Salcedo from Huracan. It’s uncertain whether Xolos seek to sign either one or both of the center backs linked in the report.
Atlanta United has at least two more seasons of control over Gonzalez Pirez’s contract, according to Atlanta United Vice President Carlos Bocanegra. The club announced on Nov. 21 that it had exercised an option on LGP’s contract for the 2020 season, and Bocanegra clarified on a phone call later that day that the player had yet more options remaining.
“I think there might have been a little bit of confusion. I read a few things that he was in the last year of his contract,” Bocanegra said on the call with reporters. “That is not correct. He does have other option years after that. So without going into specifics, this is not the final year of his contract.”
Boca Juniors were reportedly interested in acquiring Gonzalez Pirez’s services last offseason, which Gonzalez Pirez didn’t quite deny. Doug Roberson of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution included this in his report on the talks from January 2019:
“Gonzalez Pirez is in the last year of his contract with Atlanta United. He said if he is to continue playing for Atlanta United, the club and his agent need to discuss an option or new contract.”
Whether a deal for Gonzalez Pirez comes to fruition or not, the quality of the source means that this report is highly legitimate. Cesar Luis Merlo is probably a household name among our Dirty South Soccer readers for his quality reporting on many (if not all) of Atlanta United’s South American players and coaches coming and going in the transfer windows.
Gonzalez Pirez has been a fixture in Atlanta United’s matchday roster since his debut on a chilly March night at Bobby Dodd Stadium. LGP has racked up 105 league appearances — all starts — over his three seasons in Atlanta.