Atlanta United set to tap into loan market this transfer window

Following the sale of Pity Martinez, the rumors circulating around Ezekiel Barco and the latest reports of interest in Lanus midfielder Marcelino Moreno, Atlanta united is indeed a current player in the transfer market.

Recent signings of designated club players have followed a certain trend centered around spending money on big names and big prospects. It is a strategy that clearly has its advantages, without a doubt. But there is another way that can be just as effective (if not more), but which is much less sexy: the loan.

Before we get to the pros and cons of a loan deal, we need to recognize up front that it’s not like teams are giving out loans for loans. I’m not saying ‘Whoever Atlanta United is targeting and bringing should be on loan,’ but rather, ‘the loan market may offer different options than the transfer market, and those options should definitely be considered. can be taken out for a loan with an option to buy attached (instead of a standard transfer), this is also something to consider.


Loans are low risk

In what may be the most obvious and basic observation about loans, they are arguably the most prudent way to make a transfer. And that’s their beauty! A loan allows a club to see how a player will settle in a new country / league / team before having to decide whether to 1) trigger a full buyout clause, 2) arrange a permanent transfer (if the conditions of the loan does not include such a clause), or 3) allow the player to return to the parent club and shoot with someone else.

This means that if a player is successful during a loan period, the club have a clear idea of ​​their value to the club and what can be done to bring the player on board permanently. It also means that if the player is not training, the club is not stuck with an underperforming player occupying one of the three coveted DP designations.

Atlanta United has had great success with loans

It’s easy to forget, but Atlanta United signed Josef martinez on a loan deal from Turin, to trigger the full buyout after two games when it was clear he was going to be a key player for the team. And although they are not designated players, Yamil Assad and Anton Walkes were also loaned players who allowed Atlanta United the much-needed financial flexibility for their charter roster in 2017.

What is interesting is that these three circumstances were different. Josef Martinez was a player who had been left out of the regular starting XI at Turin and needed minutes as he entered his early years in hopes of being able to sell himself for his next long-term contract. He did exactly that, as Atlanta decided that would be the club that would perform his services for the foreseeable future. Yamil Asad was in a similar position, but he may have come to MLS feeling more ambitious about settling permanently in the United States, especially after experiencing the league. and feeling like it was a place where he could be successful – something that was definitely not happening to him at Velez Sarsfield. And Anton Walkes was a youngster from Tottenham Hotspur academy, looking to prove himself as a pro. That’s exactly what he did, and his parent club Spurs surely saw him as a successful business as his market value and development on the pitch increased.

Photo by Tim Clayton / Corbis via Getty Images

Loans provide flexibility

Loans can serve a very practical purpose, particularly in the context of a salary cap league like MLS, to allow for a smooth organization of a transfer. This was the case with Emerson Hyndman’s move to Atlanta. Looking only at the mechanics of the deal, a loan was the best mechanism to bring in a player the front office had identified while putting him under a lower initial salary until the club could move money for the off-season. Keep in mind that lending clubs don’t need to take over a player’s entire salary, as did Asad, which only cost $ 150,000 in budget fees, and Walkes. , which cost the club just $ 53,000 for the season.

Aside from dollars and cents, the flexibility extends to list building as well. In theory, the MO of an MLS team could consist of leaving a DP slot open for different loan players who could take over each year. This could be advantageous for teams in a league with such strict roster rules as MLS. And that’s not just when it comes to DPs – when Anton Walkes was loaned out to the league minimum in 2017, that meant he was able to fill a spot on the reserve roster, leaving more than places in the senior list open to others.

The inconvenients


If you are the club, it can be difficult to properly market a top team player who may not be a long-term component of the club. And it’s not so much about the players placed on marketing media like billboards and digital spaces, but in a more holistic way. How does the club convey that kind of signing – that kind of strategy – to the wider fan base? And I’m not talking so much about you, the Dirty South Soccer reader, but the larger, more laid-back fan base. A club that has established its brand as a very “big club” might find this uncomfortable.

Develop players on behalf of another club

It’s not always the worst thing in the world, as described about Walkes above, but it would certainly be painful to acquire a loaner player who outperforms to such an extent that it becomes impossible to strike a permanent deal. on the maturity date of the loan. This is just one of the downsides that might limit the potential gain in value for a player, although I imagine that for DP caliber players there would be a concrete future fee pretty much mandatory for Atlanta to accept the. loan conditions.

Fewer post-Covid opportunities?

In the new world we live in, footballers around the world are in dire to desperate financial straits. While this could mean that clubs are willing to temporarily pledge players (and their salaries) to someone else, it is more likely that these clubs need to take this opportunity to raise funds through permanent movement, especially for players from South America. These clubs are much more dependent on box office revenues to balance the books than teams in Europe which have significant corporate income through trade deals, sponsorships and television income.

Thanks to the profit made by Atlanta’s $ 18 million transfer from Pity Martinez, there should be more space in the budget to add players and reconfigure the roster beyond the open DP slot. Atlanta will have added up to $ 650,000 GAM, to the overall roster budget, meaning there are plenty of opportunities to bring in a certain number of players on loan or otherwise.

Priscilla C. Carnegie