Almada joins Botafogo from Atlanta United for MLS-record fee

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Atlanta United completed its transfer of midfielder Thiago Almada to Brazilian top-flight side Botafogo on Saturday for an MLS-record fee, the club announced on Saturday.

While the club confirmed the fee is a record, it didn’t attach a monetary figure. The Athletic reported Atlanta United stands to receive $21 million with up to $30m possible if conditions are met.

The 5-foot-7 Almada, from Argentina, is expected to be on the move from Brazil over the winter. Botafogo is part of Eagle Football Holdings, which also operates Lyon of France’s Ligue 1 and Crystal Palace of England’s Premier League. It is anticipated he will join Lyon in January.

Now 23, Almada was transferred to Atlanta in February 2022 for a reported $16m by Velez Sarsfield of Argentina’s Primera Division. He went on to win the 2022 FIFA World Cup with Argentina and will play for his nation in the Paris Olympics beginning later this month.

“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,” Atlanta’s vice president and technical director Carlos Bocanegra said in a news release.

Almada appeared in 77 regular-season matches (72 starts) with Atlanta United, recording 23 goals and 33 assists. He was honored as MLS Newcomer of the Year in 2022 and MLS Young Player the following year.

“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.”

Atlanta United also sent Giorgos Giakoumakis to Liga MX side Cruz Azul for a reported $10m, giving the club flexibility to add players when the secondary transfer window is open from July 18 to Aug. 14.

Atlanta United (6-9-6, 24 points) is in ninth place in the MLS Eastern Conference. They will take on Real Salt Lake on Saturday, one of four matches remaining before a month-long break for the Olympics.

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