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Lautaro Giannetti fails medical exam, transfer to Atlanta United breaks down

Atlanta United and Gabriel Heinze have lost one of the most important pieces of this transfer window.

River Plate v Velez Sarsfield - Superliga 2019/20 Photo by Marcelo Endelli/Getty Images

Update 8:05 p.m.

Lautaro Giannetti’s agent has confirmed the defender’s knee was the issue that caused him to fail his medical exam in Atlanta, as reported by Felipe Cardenas from The Athletic. It appears the deal is off and Atlanta will search for a new target.

Atlanta United appears to be on the cusp of seeing yet another transfer for a much-needed center back slip through the cracks. Gabriel Heinze’s former captain at Velez, Lautaro Giannetti, reportedly had an issue with his medical exam this week, first reported by Agustin Sileo.

The issue appears to have something to do with Giannetti’s left knee, where he suffered a torn ACL in 2018. It’s unclear at this point exactly what the issue with the surgery is that Atlanta United reportedly has trepidations about — whether it was a sloppily-executed procedure, a different procedure that Atlanta was unaware about, or something else. As with all medical issues, these are very private matters and we may never know what is the exact issue.

Giannetti played 21 of 23 matches for Velez in the season following his ACL injury and has totaled 2,664 league minutes from his return to now. He most recently played 90 minutes in Velez’s 1-0 win over Newell’s Old Boys on February 13.

As the rumor swirled Tuesday night, The Athletic’s Felipe Cardenas followed up today with grim news that he does not expect the deal to be completed.

This is a situation where the risk appetite of the club’s front office and fans diverge greatly. Fans simply want to see a talented center back to be paired next to Miles Robinson, no matter the cost. The club will want the same, but financial considerations are more prominent. The risk of seeing a sell-on fee evaporate into thin air at any given moment, particularly for a player reportedly on a five-year contract, may be too much of a hurdle.

The breakdown of the deal will also be a blow to Gabriel Heinze and his coaching staff, who were surely counting on his former captain being a key member of the side and to help organize the team tactically. In Sileo’s tweet above, he reports that Gabriel Heinze is not deterred by the medical exam and still wants the player.

There was hope that the medical issue surrounding Giannetti was more of a clerical error in the player’s medical history, or that whatever Atlanta was concerned about could be eased by renegotiating the transfer price and/or contract terms. That hope has faded (but not gone completely) with this latest report, and it looks like Carlos Bocanegra, Paul McDonough and Darren Eales will be back to the chalkboard looking for another defensive prospect.