Atlanta United took a punch to the gut this week when the planned transfer of Lautaro Giannetti from Velez Sarsfield fell through after the defender medical exam showed a faulty knee. What makes things truly sour is that Giannetti is assumed to have been the backup plan for Atlanta United at center back after another deal for highly-touted youngster David Martinez also fell through when River Plate stood in the way. Now, Atlanta United is back to the drawing board — or, the scouting board, to be precise — as they look to fill a need alongside Miles Robinson in Gabriel Heinze’s starting XI.
If you’re unfamiliar with this series, it’s pretty straightforward: we look up the players with the highest potential on Football Manager that could be reasoned to be a target for Atlanta United. It’s pretty simple. If this is your first time, check out some of our older posts for players we’ve dug up already, including Franco Escobar and Ezequiel Barco. That said, this is purely an excercise done for fun and does not mean there’s any legitimate link or chance that these players could come to Atlanta.
For the purposes of this particular search, we’re leaving things pretty open and ambitious as it relates to South American talent at CB. While Giannetti was largely tabbed as an important signing due to his familiarity with Heinze, we shouldn’t forget that the team’s primary target, Martinez, was one who was younger, rawer, having a higher upside and not necessarily having a relationship with Heinze. These are the types of players we will be looking at in this search. Considering that these players are likely to be important to their current Argentine clubs, it’s probably unlikely any of these deals could be done immediately while the Argentine transfer window is shut (meaning they wouldn’t be able to sign replacements). Atlanta could try to make due until summer when it’s more feasible to make a big addition.
Before we get going, for context, here are the Football Manger attributes for the two failed transfers of Lautaro Giannetti and David Martinez:
Now, onto the potential prospects.
21 years old - Estudiantes
This list is generally unranked, except for Colombo who should be the priority. He has a lot of things going for him, but what I like the most is that, first, the eye test (FM ratings) meets the analytics, where Colombo is a standout. Second, he’s only 21 years old, which I’d assume increases the ability to acquire the player by strategically leveraging the U-22 initiative starting in MLS this season. Colombo (awesome name btw) is still very raw, having compiled less than 2,000 minutes in his professional career to date, but was capped by Argentina’s U-23 team last year and is increasingly entrenching himself as a key player with Estudiantes.
22 years old - Parma (Lanus)
This one is not happening. Valenti is currently at Parma in Serie A on loan with a mandatory buy clause for €5 million and a four-year contract. But including it here to give us some context on pricing.
21 years old - San Lorenzo
Gattoni has high potential in Football Manager but might be a little too raw for what Atlanta United needs right now, which is an aggressive, confident defender with good decision-making skills. He certainly has the ingredients to be a quality player though, which is why he’s seen as such a good prospect.
24 years old - Independiente
I will never forget seeing Alan Franco play for the first time when tuning into Independiente’s 2017 Copa Sudamericana run to watch Ezequiel Barco. Franco looked like the best player on the field at times, not an easy task for a then-19-year-old center back. Tough, aggressive, strong of body and mind. I’m confident he’s the best pure defender of this group, but he’s tidy and comfortable on the ball as well.
22 years old - Union de Santa Fe
Calderon seems to be the least technical of the players we’re covering here. Still just breaking in as a professional, Calderon’s strength seems to be his ability winning duels in isolated situations. While that’s always nice, that’s also the specialty of Miles Robinson, and it’d probably make sense to pair him with a more technical defender.
Juan Cruz Komar
23 years old - Talleres de Cordoba
Juan Cruz Komar looks like he’d be a legitimate good option. A very good defender, solid on the ball, and what I really like about his Football Manager profile is his leadership attribute. It means whoever rated him knows that he’s a strong, confident character.
Who’s your favorite? And what other players should Atlanta United be looking at?