Atlanta United has agreed in principle to sell Carlos Carmona to Colo-Colo in his native Chile.
Carlos Bocanegra, technical director of the Five Stripes, said the move was made with a “heavy heart” and so that Carmona could be with his pregnant wife, who lives in Chile. Because of the pregnancy, she can’t travel by air.
“We wouldn’t be doing the right thing standing in his way,” Bocanegra said.
The selling of Carmona ends a four-day tornado of conflicting reports.
On Monday, at the opening of training camp, Bocanegra said that Carmona was under contract and that he wasn’t going anywhere.
Fans of Colo-Colo voiced their frustrations on Twitter and there were reports that Carmona was headed to the team.
Bocanegra said Thursday that Monday’s statement was true. The team had no intention to sell the player that he said they had built the team around.
“We didn’t want to get rid of him,” Bocanegra said. “It was never in the cards.”
But in the past few days, the team learned of the pregnancy-related complications that Carmona’s wife was experiencing. Thus, the decision to sell him to Colo-Colo, one of the biggest clubs in Chile. Bocanegra declined to say if there was a transfer fee, instead saying they were more concerned for Carmona and his wife.
“He was excellent; excellent for us and a great professional,” Bocanegra said. “He was someone who took care of himself and who the players looked up to.
“We can’t say enough good things about him.”
Speaking to the media for the first time during training camp Thursday, Carmona said he was happy in Atlanta and didn’t seem like someone keen to change clubs.
“I would have to weigh everything,” he said. “I know the clubs are talking and that’s it.”
Carmona, 30, joined Atlanta United on a three-year contract with an option for a fourth year after spending the previous eight seasons in Italy. He started 30 games for the Five Stripes, scoring two goals and helping the team reach the playoffs. He had a guaranteed salary of $725,000 last season.
Replacing Carmona will be difficult and not something Bocanegra wanted to discuss Thursday. Carmona is the first Atlanta United player sold on the transfer market.
“We have to sit back and have a look at how we can reconstruct it,” Bocanegra said.
Carmona and Jeff Larentowicz formed a solid partnership as defensive midfielders, helping Atlanta United post the second-largest goal difference (plus-30) in MLS.
The team has several defensive midfielders on the roster, including Larentowicz, Julian Gressel, Homegrown product Chris Goslin and recent draftee Oliver Shannon. The team traded for Darlington Nagbe, who can play defensive midfielder, but is viewed as more of a central midfielder who can connect the defense to the offense.
Carmona is the second significant player that Atlanta United has lost this offseason. Yamil Asad returned to Velez Sarsfield in Argentina after his loan expired.
“Sometimes you have to think about life over soccer,” Bocanegra said.