In a dramatic shift on Saturday, Atlanta United look to be back in the hunt for Celtic striker Giorgios Giakoumakis.
According to Greek journalist Johnny Georgeopoulos, Celtic will accept a revised transfer offer of £3.5 million from Atlanta, including £800,000 in bonuses. Per Georgeopolous, Giakoumakis will be brought in on a DP deal.
#Giakoumakis BIG NEWS! Last minute update! Another twist in the tale (the final one). Eventually #Atlanta freeing up a Designated Player spot for Giakoumakis & offer has already landed to #Celtic ( £3,5 mil.). @MLS side now big favourites to sign him! @CelticFC #urawareds pic.twitter.com/c1Wj4NTn7C— Johnny Georgopoulos (@YanniRamone) January 28, 2023
Talks between Atlanta United and Celtic striker Giorgios Giakoumakis appeared to be off on Friday as the Greek international was reportedly set to “tie up the formalities” of a £4 million transfer to Japanese top-flight club Urawa Red Diamonds, per a report from The Scotsman, among others.
Per Ross McLeish, a deal was to be finalized “in the coming days”.
Giakoumakis emerged as a target for Atlanta United as it looks to add to its ranks following the departure of Josef Martinez. While a deal initially appeared close, Greek publication Sports DNA cited “Celtic’s refusal to offload” the 28-year-old as Atlanta sought to bring him in on loan with an option to buy, while Celtic were out to sell him outright.
However, Atlanta apparently have changed its mind and are prepared to purchase him instead of pursuing a loan deal.
Where do Atlanta United go from here?
Outside of Giakoumakis, the only 1st-team striker currently on Atlanta’s roster is Jackson Conway. While he has put in significant time in the weight room in the offseason as he looks to take the chance he’s been given, Gonzalo Pineda noted on Friday that the 22-year-old is “still young” and that Conway is working on developing a “killer mentality” toward finishing, perhaps hinting that Atlanta are very much in the market for a more experienced option up top.
“He has some good attributes like his size. He’s good in the air which is something that we like. He’s strong, he’s powerful, he can shield the ball well, he can combine pretty well, he has good shooting from distance,” Pineda said. “But, obviously, he has some other skills that he has to improve.”
Atlanta technically have a few weeks to go before MLS rosters need to be set. But it ideally would want to have someone in place before it departs for its preseason trip to Mexico next week. If it opts to look to the free agent market, veteran Ola Kamara, a 9-goal scorer with D.C. United in 2022 and a Golden Boot runner-up in 2021, is still available, and despite making $1.520 million in 2022, the 33-year-old should command a much lower salary. Will Bruin ($260,000 in 2022), a name very familiar to both Pineda and Garth Lagerwey in Seattle, remains unsigned, but his 3 goals in 24 appearances in 2022 (10 starts) might not be what the club is looking for unless it is looking to bridge the gap between now and a more significant piece during the summer transfer window.
Although Lagerwey’s M.O. for player acquisition in Seattle seemed to lean toward making significant moves in the summer (and Pineda lamented the timing of the transfer window during Friday’s training session, conceding “It is what it is” while saying that he still hoped that new signings would be brought in “soon”), it’s tough to imagine that Atlanta will step onto the field on Feb. 25 against the San Jose Earthquakes with Jackson Conway as its starting striker. Now it looks as if it will add a veteran No. 9 from overseas to its roster.