Eduard Atuesta was linked to Brazilian club Palmeiras several months ago, but it looks like the LAFC midfielder will indeed be headed back to South America. Reports in the Colombian press first broke the story, and while the deal appears to not yet be done, ESPN has confirmed that talks are underway, both in Brazil and the United States. The transfer fee appears to be up to $7 million, according to Jeff Carlisle.
Sources tell ESPN that the fee for Atuesta will be around $7m including incentives. #lafc— Jeff Carlisle (@JeffreyCarlisle) December 12, 2021
A short time later, Tom Bogert of MLSsoccer.com reported the fee would be $4 million, so that would presumably be the base fee, potentially escalating up to a max of $7 million.
Atuesta, 24, has been with LAFC for most of the last four seasons, joining a few weeks into the 2018 campaign from Independiente Medellin. He was an MLS Best XI selection in 2019, and has served as vice captain when Carlos Vela wasn’t in the lineup. Arguably, Atuesta’s injury-plagued 2021 campaign helped doom LAFC’s season, as the influential two-way midfielder missed several vital games as the team missed the playoffs for the first time ever.
Palmeiras are coming off their second consecutive Copa Libertadores title, so Atuesta could do worse than make the move to the Brazilian outfit. That also means that it’s possible Palmeiras, flush off prize money and transfer fees for a key player or two, actually have the money to make this move. And for Atuesta, getting into South American continental competition could help put him in the shop window even more, to hopefully get a move to Europe after a year or two.
A $4-7 million transfer fee would be a good return for LAFC financially, and would help show they can bring through talent to sell on for a profit on a regular basis, which they’re clearly trying to do. On the flip side, I think the expectation was that he would be sold directly to Europe and that doesn’t look imminent, and perhaps most importantly, replacing Atuesta is going to be really hard in LAFC’s lineup. I assume Francisco Ginella will likely slot in as the next starter, but Atuesta was one of the few best players in his position for four whole years in MLS, and even if the likes of Ginella can grow to be a top starter in his own right, there’s going to be some growing pains along the way at best.
So we’ll see what happens, this isn’t a done deal, but considering credible sources in three countries, including the United States, are reporting it, it’s probably on deck to happen before long. We’ll keep you posted on developments.
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