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Atlanta United manager shortlist: Gabriel Heinze

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A headline name for a club who loves making a splash.

Velez v Defensa y Justicia - Superliga 2019/20 Photo by Gustavo Garello/Jam Media/Getty Images

As we impatiently wait for Atlanta United to name their third-ever permanent manager, let’s continue our fantasyland look at managers who could be possible names on their shortlist. The club has kept their candidates more secretive than the nuclear codes, so as always, these are just our guesses and dreams.

Previous Entries: Domenec Torrent

Today we focus on a name that everyone around the Atlanta United online world has thrown out as a potential hire: Gabriel Heinze.

About Gabriel Heinze

The charismatic 42-year-old Argentine made himself a household name in the 2000s thanks to his world-class skills on the field as a defender. Plying his stellar trade at clubs like Manchester United, PSG, Real Madrid and Roma, if you watched this sport a decade ago, it’s impossible not to recognize his name and/or face. Yes, he’s the guy from THAT Kaka goal in the Champions League. Besides being on the wrong end of every YouTube skills and goals compilation from the Noughties, Heinze was a ferocious defender at every level of play imaginable. Whether it was in the Premier League, La Liga, Champions League or the World Cup, he was always in the limelight as a player and usually thrived.

After his playing days, Heinze broke into the managerial scene with Argentine side Godoy Cruz in 2015. A year later, he moved to Argentinos Juniors where he spent two seasons before taking over Velez Sarsfield in 2017. It was during his time at Velez where he proved his merit as a manager. He consistently helped the club overachieve, qualifying for the Copa Sudamericana twice.

Availability

Heinze left Velez Sarsfield in 2019 after three seasons at the club. He’s yet to take another job, with many speculating that he could be waiting for a job in Europe. Availability is not in question. However, his possible desire to come to MLS is unknown. For such a young manager, his prospects are extremely high and interest from Europe is surely out there. It would likely take some convincing, both spiritually and monetarily, to lure him stateside.

Availability Rating: 4.5/5

Fit

Just like Tata Martino, Gabriel Heinze is a disciple of legendary Argentine manager and current Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa. Bielsa’s ideas and values have spread like wildfire thanks to his army of former players and assistants that idolize his ways. Heinze is said to be the “most Bielsista of the new Bielsista’s,” generally applying a very similar type of system with his teams. That style of play consists of high pressure over the entire field. The high-octane system has drawn both rave reviews from adoring fans and cynical skepticism from doubters who question if such a style is feasible in the modern game.

This excerpt from a wonderful overview of Heinze’s first year in charge of Velez perfectly describes his philosophy:

Typically in packs, and wanting to regain possession as close to where the ball had been lost/as high up the pitch as feasible, Heinze’s Vélez *want* the ball, and *need* it as much time as possible.

After suffering through the slow and patient approach of Frank de Boer for 18 months, Atlanta United fans are dying for the return of a high tempo, high energy type of playing style just like Heinze’s.

He’s also extremely handsome.

Fit Rating: 5/5

The Bottom Line

Heinze is likely an opinion-splitting type of manager for Atlanta United. If all you want to see is the club return to the days of being extremely exciting and fun to watch, Gabriel Heinze is the perfect candidate out there right now. However, if you’re a pragmatist and want someone with longevity and the chance to be around for the next decade, he’s not your guy. Heinze is the type of manager looking to build his portfolio to one day manage at the highest level possible. However, he’s also the type of leader who will command respect from his players and motivate them to perform at the best of their abilities.