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Reports: Atlanta United, Independiente agree to transfer for defender Alan Franco

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The reported finances of the deal for the center back are... creative.

FBL-SUDAMERICANA-FLAMENGO-INDEPENDIENTE-FINAL Photo credit should read MAURO PIMENTEL/AFP via Getty Images

Atlanta United have agreed to a third transfer for a top-quality central defender this winter, this time with Argentine club Independiente for 24-year-old center back Alan Franco.

The finances of this deal, if the reporting is accurate, are fascinating. Murkier reporting from days ago stated that Atlanta would pay $2.8 million up front for 50 percent of Franco’s future sell-on value. But what we didn’t know was the insertion of an additional clause to bring the total to $3 million after the defender makes 15 appearances for the club. That total figure matches the reported fee for the last center back Atlanta agreed to terms with, Lautaro Giannetti.

But still, Franco is a more highly valued asset than the maximum $3 million figure that Atlanta can afford to spend while abiding by MLS salary budget rules. So the club sweetened the deal by offering a massive 50 percent share of the future fee up front. What’s interesting is Atlanta’s ability (or, requirement) to buy back that share of his future value over time. It effectively lessens the down payment in allocation money so that Atlanta can remain compliant while backloading a portion of the fee to future transfer windows. Wild.

Neither Atlanta United fans nor front office members will be rejoicing yet after seeing two previous deals for top-quality defenders break down at the final hurdle in recent weeks. But the team is once again on the doorstep of signing a young, proven center back to Gabriel Heinze’s squad.