Atlanta United’s Nagbe on his best position

Jan 25, 2018
HYOSUB SHIN / AJC
December 15, 2017 Atlanta - New Atlanta United midfielder Darlington Nagbe (background left) is welcomed by fans at the Team Store at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Friday, December on Friday, December 15, 2017. Atlanta United introduced midfielder Darlington Nagbe to the media on Friday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Hyosub Shin / hshin@ajc.com

Atlanta United’s move for Darlington Nagbe was surprising for two reasons.

First, the team already seemed set, loaded even, in the central midfield with Miguel Almiron, Carlos Carmona, Julian Gressel and Kevin Kratz, among others. And then the team added Ezequiel Barco.

Second, it set an MLS record for Allocation money exchanged.

But Nagbe was Atlanta United’s No. 1 target within MLS, according to Technical Director Carlos Bocanegra.

Manager Gerardo Martino, in his first comments on Nagbe, said on Monday that, “I think first of all with all of our signings, not just with Darlington, all of the players brought in quality.

“Brings experience to the midfield. He’s very explosive. He has the ability to elaborate the play, help in the building up. Very good 1v1. Also brings International experience. Very good.”

Here is some of what Nagbe had to say at the start of training camp:

Q. When did you arrive in Atlanta and how are you adjusting?

A. I arrived about a week ago with my family. So far I’ve been adjusting great. The guys have been great. Coach has been great. The whole staff, as well.

Q. What’s the vibe in camp so far?

A. It’s fun. It’s not always the most fun time. So far it’s been fun. We’re happy to get out here, touching a ball after you haven’t touched a ball in a long time. It’s going well.

Q. After training with Portland for so many years, are there any differences now in the first three days and what you did there?

A. It’s similar. We’re doing a little bit more without the ball here. That’s fine as well. Every team has its own style, how they want to approach things. Today, we got out here and worked with the ball the same way as in Portland.

Q. Now that the team is more settled, how do you think you will fit into the lineup?

A. We haven’t gone over that yet. Somewhere in the midfield. I’m open to playing any position. 

My biggest thing is to get on the field and get touches with the ball. I’m open to whatever.

Q. If you are deployed as a No. 8, is that something you are comfortable with?

A. Yes, definitely. Getting into the middle, getting up and down a little bit, getting touches on the ball and getting into the flow of the game.

Q. What’s the thing that strikes you about the team?

A. Everyone’s having fun. There are a lot of different cultures, a good group of guys, a good mix of cultures. 

Q. After you signed, I think they were taking you on a tour of the locker room (at Mercedes-Benz) and then taking you up here. What do you think?

A. I think this is amazing. I haven’t seen too many training grounds, but from what I’ve seen this is the best one in the league and definitely sets the bar for other teams. The stadium is magnificent.

Q. What’s your personal goal for this season?

A. I like to win. If we are having fun winning and playing the way everyone wants to play, I feel we will be happy.

Q. What’s the most difficult thing about learning new teammates? Is it the speed or weight of the passes needed?

A. Chemistry. A lot of guys the longer you play with them you know where they like to be on the field, where they like the ball and what they want to do the ball when they get it.