Atlanta United signs Thiago Almada from Velez Sarsfield to four-year DP contract

Atlanta United announced Wednesday that it has signed 20-year-old attacker Thiago Almada from Argentina's Velez Sarsfield.

Almada joins the Five Stripes on a four-year designated player contract. The terms of his transfer were not disclosed by the MLS club, but The Athletic reported that Atlanta has paid a league-record transfer fee of $16 million to sign the Argentina youth international.

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Almada will occupy the club's third DP slot, which opened up following Ezequiel Barco's loan to Buenos Aires giants River Plate last month.

"After an extensive and in-depth due-diligence process, we have exercised our exclusive option to permanently transfer in Thiago," Atlanta United vice president and technical director Carlos Bocanegra said. "He's a player we've been tracking for a long time and he's shown that he's one of the best young players in South America over the past few seasons. We feel that his abilities fit well with the kind of attacking soccer that we want to play at Atlanta United and we're confident that he will be able to play at a high level in Major League Soccer."

Almada and a teammate were suspended by Velez in February 2021 after they were charged with sexual abuse of a 28-year-old woman at a party in December 2020. The players were reinstated a week later.

In 38 appearances for Velez last season, Almada registered nine goals and six assists. In his career with the club, he totaled 24 goals and 11 assists in 100 appearances.

The Buenos Aires-born Almada has represented his country at the youth level on 12 occasions, scoring one goal in that time.