Update #2: It’s officially official. Tito Villalba joins Club Libertad. Vice President and Technical Director Carlos Bocanegra had this to say regarding the move:
“We want to thank Tito for his contribution and service to the club over the last three years,” Bocanegra said. “He did a lot for our club as our first Designated Player and we wish him nothing but the best of luck in his future.”
Update 11:15 p.m.
Tito Villalba has completed his move away from Atlanta United to Club Libertad in Paraguay, according to new reporting from The Athletic’s Felipe Cardenas.
Sources have confirmed that #ATLUTD have sold striker Tito Villalba, the club’s first-ever designated player, to Club Libertad in Paraguay.— Felipe Cárdenas (@FelipeCar) January 29, 2020
Reporting with @PaulTenorio and @jeffrueter. https://t.co/F9QxJCbWsv
The transfer fee for Villalba is reportedly “in the low seven-figures” according to a source in the report.
Atlanta United’s first ever designated player could be making his way out of the club as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Doug Roberson has reported the team is pursuing a sale.
Atlanta United has been heavily linked in recent weeks to two Paraguayan players for Cerro Porteño in central midfielder Mathias Villasanti and Santiago Arzamendia. The issue with acquiring either or both of the players has been the cost — with both being expensive enough in a straight transfer to push them beyond the boundaries of available TAM.
It is possible Atlanta could use Villalba’s valuation as a makeweight that could allow Atlanta’s front office to acquire players in return on a lower transfer number. But considering the move appears to be to Libertad and not to Cerro Porteño, clearing Villalba’s contract off the books (he earned a guaranteed salary last year of $830,249.96) would create more TAM for the club to use in a purchase. Considering the 2019 Maximum Salary Charge (TAM/DP threshold) was $530k, Atlanta would roughly bank $300k + the amortized transfer fee cost (undisclosed) back into the TAM fund.
The sale creates a void in attacking talent in a team that already has at least one glaring hole on the roster. With the departure of Julian Gressel last week, the team would be losing both of its standout right-sided players within days of each other.