Transfer Tracker

Atlanta United transfer Thiago Almada for MLS-record fee

Thiago Almada - transfer - Atlanta United to Botafogo


Atlanta United have transferred midfielder Thiago Almada to Brazilian top-flight side Botafogo for an MLS-record fee, the club announced Saturday.

Almada, a 2022 FIFA World Cup champion with Argentina, joined Atlanta in February 2022 for a reported MLS-record $16 million fee from boyhood side Vélez Sarsfield.

Now, he exits for a sum exceeding two previous benchmark deals: when Alphonso Davies joined Bayern Munich from Vancouver Whitecaps FC in 2018 and when Miguel Almirón joined Newcastle United from Atlanta in 2019.

Additionally, as part of the deal, reports indicate the 23-year-old Almada will progress to Lyon next winter. The Ligue 1 side, Crystal Palace (Premier League) and Botafogo are part of the John Textor-led Eagle Football Holdings ownership group.

"We spent more than a year recruiting Thiago to join Atlanta United and during that process, we agreed that our club could provide a great platform to showcase his abilities and he would have the opportunity to continue his development until the time was right for him to move on to the next challenge," vice president and technical director Carlos Bocanegra said in a release.

Rapid rise

Almada was electric during his Atlanta United career, tallying 23g/33a in 77 regular-season matches.

The No. 10 was named MLS Newcomer of the Year in 2022 and MLS Young Player of the Year in 2023. During the latter season, he also earned MLS Best XI presented by Continental Tire honors.

Internationally, Almada has one goal in four senior-team appearances with Argentina – memorably joining Inter Miami CF's Lionel Messi at the Qatar 2022 World Cup. He is slated to captain La Albiceleste at the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.

Almada was Atlanta’s latest South American playmaker, following in the footsteps of Almirón, Pity Martinez and Ezequiel Barco. There were often comparisons drawn between Almada and Almirón, the latter of whom joined Newcastle for a reported $27 million fee.

"His success is something we’re all proud of and a ton of credit is owed to our scouting department, in addition to everyone who has worked with him at the club," Bocanegra said. "Our team has been prepared for this move and we will look to immediately reinvest in the team during the upcoming summer transfer window."

What now?

Almada is Atlanta’s second outbound Designated Player this summer, following Giorgos Giakoumakis’ reported $10 million move to Liga MX side Cruz Azul. Atlanta could soon capitalize on their newfound DP flexibility, as the Secondary Transfer Window runs from July 18 to Aug. 14

The Five Stripes are ninth in the Eastern Conference and led by interim coach Rob Valentino after the club parted ways with Gonzalo Pineda in early June.