The end of the transfer saga/emotional roller coaster is here, and Atlanta United has indeed signed their man from Scottish Premiership side Celtic. The club announced today that it has signed striker Giorgos Giakoumakis as a Designated Player, with the deal reportedly worth £4.3 million (approximately $5.3 million). £800,000 of that will be in the form of bonuses.
Giōrgos Giakoumakīs to Atlanta United as DP, done deal — striker traveling to Mexico together with his agent Blash Hossein where Atlanta pre season is taking place for medical tests #MLS #transfers— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) February 4, 2023
Celtic will receive £4.3m fee, player will sign three year deal with option. pic.twitter.com/33D3S72twI
The move marks an attempt by the front office to snag a proven goal scorer that will fit coach Gonzalo Pineda’s style - a bigger-bodied target in and around the box who isn't afraid to play the ball with the wingers and midfielders to create better goal-scoring opportunities. Giakoumakis will be the front runner for the starting position, while Jackson Conway (and apparently Machop Chol) will be competing alongside him for minutes.
Giakoumakis will be introduced to media on Friday at the Training Ground.
“Giorgos is a player who’s been on the club’s radar for a while and we’re excited to bring him to Atlanta,” Vice President and Technical Director Carlos Bocanegra said in a press release. “He’s a powerful striker who loves to get in the box and score goals. He plays with a high intensity, works hard and is someone we think will help the team both in the attack and leading the line defensively. We’re excited to welcome him to the club and integrate him into the squad.”
The 28 year old, English-speaking, Greek international brings a plethora of scoring experience, highlighted by his 2020-2021 season with then-Eredivisie side VVV-Venlo, where he scored 26 goals in 30 appearances despite the team being relegated. He then joined Celtic where he’s scored 19 goals in 40 matches while appearing in various notable games, including in the UEFA Champion’s League.
The move comes after weeks of transfer drama. Reports initially indicated the Five Stripes were interested, but that J-League club Urawa Red Diamonds were the likely leaders in the race. However, it was mentioned that Giakoumakis himself wanted a move to Atlanta as opposed to Japan, and a subsequent loan offer from the club was noted by various outlets.
#Giakoumakis update: @ATLUTD will only sign Greek striker on loan. #Urawa are able to pay the transfer fee to #CelticFC without a delay. #Giakoumakis wants to move @MLS side. Not an easy case. It's up to #Celtic. @CelticFC #Atlanta pic.twitter.com/KoWRFTbtUz— Johnny Georgopoulos (@YanniRamone) January 24, 2023
As mentioned above by Johnny Georgopoulos of Greek publication SDNA, the loan deal was rejected as Urawa was prepared to pay Celtic what they wanted. Giakoumakis even headed to Holland to perform his medicals for the J-League side and it seemed as if the Five Stripes would be left with one striker on the roster. It was a tough pill to swallow during a time when Atlanta fans are looking for some positivity after 2022’s rough showing.
Then, Atlanta likely said something along the lines of “hold up, if we’re slinging money let’s sling it,” and countered the Urawa offer with the one that was ultimately accepted just in time for the end of Celtic’s transfer window.
Predicting whether a new player will come to a new league and new country and hit a stride of good form is nearly impossible, but the fact that Giakoumakis pushed for an Atlanta move is already a step in the right direction. Plus, at risk of being misinterpreted as making a comparison, Atlanta United already plucked one player from a European side who wasn’t a fit for the overseas club and turned him into MLS’s most prolific goalscorer. For now, here’s hoping Giakoumakis can integrate well into the overall plan and just play the season as a true goal-dangerous threat. In the meantime, take a look at the below highlight reel, and make a note of how involved he is everywhere in the attacking third.
Welcome to Atlanta, Giorgos!