The upcoming summer transfer window opening on July 7 could be one of the most important in Atlanta United history as the Five Stripes are in desperate need of making a move to turn around the club’s prospects under manager Gabriel Heinze. At Dirty South Soccer, we will use the next several weeks to go through some names that might be uttered in the offices at the team training ground as club brass deliberate on who can be added to help strengthen the team. Some of these may be more far-fetched than others, and we’re certainly not reporting any links between parties, but figured it’d be a productive and fun exercise. Let us know what other players we should take a closer look at in the comments.
Name: Santiago Moreno
Position: Wing (right)
Club: CD América de Cali
One thing that has been hashed out and expanded upon in every source of media and fan commentary concerning Atlanta United is the lack of production from the wing positions and the disconnect between speed and finishing. Atlanta United has relied upon Jürgen Damm, Jake Mulraney, Erik López, and Marcelino Moreno as its primary options on the wing so far this season with underwhelming results.
If rumors are to be believed, Atlanta United may be the unnamed MLS club looking to add a new Moreno to the wing. This Moreno is Santiago Moreno of Colombia who currently plays for CD América de Cali. He is a fast young attacking player who primarily plays an advanced position on the right but has also played as an inverted winger and as an attacking midfielder. After breaking through to the first team two years ago, Moreno has gone on a goal-creating tear, scoring or assisting 15 times across 46 matches (about 3000 minutes) in all competitions. He is widely considered the most talented player on his team with the greatest potential of them all.
Reports out of Scotland and Colombia claim that Stephen Gerrard’s Rangers are seeking his services for about $3 million with América wanting a sell-on percentage attached.
Why it could happen
Atlanta has a definite need at the position, a thirst for talented young South Americans, and a compelling Argentinian manager in Gabriel Heinze whose desired tactical system could directly benefit a player with Moreno’s abilities. Moreno also needs to move to a higher profile league to get on the radar of the Colombian national team so playing alongside Josef Martinez could certainly help.
Why it wouldn’t happen
Right now, Moreno is being most closely linked to Rangers from the Scottish Premier League with Norwich also showing some interest. While the SPL as a whole has declined over the last decade, Rangers and Celtic remain perennial entrants into the Champions League or Europa League offering their rising stars opportunities for visibility with the most powerful teams in the world. That opportunity is hard to pass on so Atlanta will need to make him a compelling offer of wages, lifestyle, and opportunity for advancement through a combination of Heinze’s mentorship and Atlanta’s potential to place him in a top European league as he enters his prime.