Soccer’s hot stove is heating up and rumors involving Atlanta United are burning.
Several outlets on social media are posting that Portland’s Darlington Nagbe may soon be joining Atlanta United. Kristian Dyer was the first to report Atlanta United’s interest in Nagbe. Sam Stejskal reported that Portland started considering trading one of its cornerstones because Nagbe wants a pay increase from $550,000 to $1 million per year.
Nagbe, 27, has scored 27 goals and added 30 assists in 214 appearances since joining the Timbers in 2011 as the No. 2 pick in the SuperDraft. He is considered one of the best midfielders in MLS.
Atlanta United declined to comment on the rumors, which has been its position on players that it doesn’t have under contract.
ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle said Atlanta United would send to Portland $750,000 in general allocation money, $300,000 in targeted allocation money, and an additional $500,000-$600,000 in incentive-based compensation. If that is the compensation it would make it the largest trade in MLS history, breaking the package of $900,000 that Orlando City sent to Sporting KC for Dom Dwyer. That deal could reportedly be for as much as $1.6 million if performance incentives are achieved.
Atlanta United would also send an international roster spot to Portland -- it also sent one to LAFC on Sundayin exchange for a fourth-round pick in January’s SuperDraft -- and would take Tibers defender Gbenga Arokoyo,
If Atlanta United acquires Nagbe, the biggest question is what position would he play?
Nagbe is fast and technically gifted, allowing him to play across the midfield or even at wingback.
The more important question may be who doesn’t play?
Atlanta United has already announced the signing of Franco Escobar, who can play centerback or right back, and Greg Garza who can play left fullback or left wingback. The team is reportedly pursuing Ezequiel Barco, an 18-year-old Argentinian who can also play across the midfield.
The team has four players, all important starters, who in the past few months have been reported targets for transfers: Striker Josef Martinez, attacking midfielder Miguel Almiron, right midfielder Hector Villalba and defensive midfielder Carlos Carmona. It also has midfielder Julian Gressel, named the MLS Newcomer of the Year.
The team has still yet to announce the status of on-loan players Yamil Asad and Anton Walkes, and is negotiating to bring back Jeff Larentowicz.
The MLS trade window will open again after Tuesday’s expansion draft concludes.