Updated: Jul 28
Atlanta United is clearly very dependent on the young Argentine star. Without the World Cup winner Atlanta United's record is an abysmal 0-1-1 including a 6-1 loss to Columbus. This is considerably worse than our 4-2-0 record with the playmaker. So when he definitely leaves for Europe this summer the impetus will be on Atlanta United to find a replacement. This could be from the current roster with some jiggering or, far more likely, from the transfer market.
Looking Down the Depth Chart
Looking at the rest of the team for who could step up in the two games he was out we saw Amar Sejdic fill in the 10 role with a far more defensive midfield. While the easiest replacement, this clearly is not working as it is important for our style to be able to move the ball around well in the attack, in addition to Thiago being able to produce moments of magic through out the game. Another like-for-like option in our squad could be Ajani Fortune who played well for the twos and in the few minutes we have seen him so far this season. Alternatively Atlanta could be a little bit more creative and shift Luiz Araujo inside, allowing him to be the playmaker and have free reign to move around in the attack. This would have two potential problems, relying on the Brazilian to run the attack and create chances and replacing him on the wing. The first problem needs to be addressed by him and is just a matter of if he can step up and do it, but the second problem is addressable. We could see Etienne Jr. or Machop Chol flip from their preferred left side over to the right or we could go searching the transfer market. The attraction of all of these options are that if we don't try to find a replacement 10 on the transfer market we could have an open DP slot and some space to find another special player. The downsides are that the position is very important and I would want our third designated player along with Giakoumakis and Araujo to be a 10. This leads the club to look for a 10 on the transfer market.
Looking On the Transfer Market
This is where all the fans get to have fun debating about who the club should get, whether that is a young player from Argentina or an up and coming player from the European second leagues.
Starting unrealistic but fun Xavi Simons is a 10 that plays for PSV Eindhoven in the Dutch Eredivisie. They are currently 3rd in the league under Feyenoord and Ajax. Simons is currently 19 and has racked up 14 goals and 7 assists in 29 matches in the Eredivisie, earning him 5 man of the matches and an average rating of 7.81 on Fotmob. He is a fun play maker who also likes to play on the left wing in addition to in a 10 role. He would be a very similar replacement to Almada but is very unrealistic with a Transfermarkt value of 30 million euros and many suitors across Europe.
Raphael Veiga is an interesting player who registered 3 goals and 3 assists in 19 matches for Palmeiras last season, with an average Fotmob rating of 7.02. He has a lot of positives associated with him as he is fairly experienced with over 200 appearances for Palmeiras and an appearance for the Brazilian national team. There are some downsides associated with him, though, as he is old for Atlanta United's model of moving players from South America to Europe and picked up a thigh injury a little less than two weeks ago with an expected return in early May.
Franca is an exciting young prospect coming out of Flamengo. He is a 19 year old attacking midfielder who has registered 8 goals in 44 matches for Flamengo. The young player would be an exciting addition to the squad as a good player on the ball and an exciting young up and coming talent that definitely fits with Atlanta United's model. He is also "on Manchester City and Real Madrid's radar" so he clearly has potential.
To be continued...