MLS Insider: Tom Bogert

Official: Real Salt Lake sign Jefferson Savarino from Atletico Mineiro


UPDATE (May 4) – Real Salt Lake have signed forward Jefferson Savarino from Brazilian Serie A side Atletico Mineiro, the MLS club announced Wednesday evening before the Primary Transfer Window closes.

The 25-year-old arrives as a Designated Player through the 2025 season with a club option for 2026. He’s the first DP acquisition under RSL's new ownership group.

RSL executed trades with Austin FC and FC Cincinnati to acquire him via the No. 1 spot in MLS’s Allocation Ranking, moving up earlier this week. Those totaled $475,000 in General Allocation Money across the 2022 and 2023 seasons. 

Savarino returns to RSL after initially being transferred to Atletico Mineiro over two years ago. He spent 2017-19 at RSL, with the previous outgoing deal meaning he’d go through the Allocation Process. 

“Bringing Jefferson back to Salt Lake has been an exciting process in recent months – obviously we have great memories of him here representing our badge, our colors, our community, and certainly sparking our attack,” RSL general manager Elliot Fall said in a release. “During his time in Brazil over the last couple years, Jefferson has matured as a player and as a person. We expect him to provide even more danger as a playmaking and finishing option for RSL, and look forward to him combining with so many pieces on the roster. Our club could not be more elated to welcome Jefferson and his family back to Utah.”

Savarino becomes the second Venezuelan international attacker acquired this season by RSL, joining Sergio Cordova after his loan move from FC Augsburg (German Bundesliga). In attack, he also previously played with club captain Damir Kreilach.

“My family and I have long anticipated a return to Utah; we have great memories of the fans, the community, the stadium and of course my teammates,” Savarino said in a release. “I am told that our locker room is very much together, very tight-knit, and that the club is poised for success.

"I look forward to meeting Pablo Mastroeni in person and working with him and the entire staff, as my friend Damir has shared with me wonderful things. I am grateful to Elliot, the new owners and everyone who helped make this move back to Real Salt Lake happen. I am focused on scoring goals and creating excitement and doing absolutely whatever it takes to bring trophies and success to Utah.”

ORIGINAL (April 29) – Real Salt Lake have an agreement in place to reacquire Venezuelan international winger Jefferson Savarino from Brazilian Serie A side Atletico Mineiro, sources tell

The deal would be for $2 million with $500,000 in performance-based incentives. Atletico Mineiro would retain 20% of any future transfer.

The transfer was also reported by Fabrizio Romano earlier Friday.

Savarino can only be officially reacquired via the MLS Allocation Order, as he went on the list following his transfer out of MLS two years ago. Sources add there’s a deal in place for RSL to move up to No. 1, currently held by FC Cincinnati. Cincy are only moving down one spot, though, meaning RSL facilitated another trade to get to No. 2, currently held by Austin FC. Once RSL officially take Savarino, Cincy will return to the top spot again.

Savarino, 25, originally joined RSL in 2017 from Venezuelan Primera Division side Zulia FC and enjoyed three successful seasons, with 21 goals and 21 assists over 82 regular-season appearances. He joined Atletico in 2020 a month before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down world soccer, then for a similar fee to the one RSL are re-signing him for.

Jefferson Savarino RSL
Jefferson Savarino was previously a Young Designated Player for RSL.

The winger has been successful in Brazil, with 21 goals and 21 assists in 93 appearances, including extensive time in Copa Libertadores, South America’s premier club competition. He has two goals in 89 league minutes so far this season. Savarino has 27 caps with the Venezuelan national team, featuring extensively in Conmebol World Cup qualifying.

RSL had long been in talks with Atletico over a potential deal, which is poised to get done just before the Primary Transfer Window closes May 4. Savarino's potential debut would be some weeks away, though, as the Claret-and-Cobalt will have to await the visa process.

The club just reacquired winger Anderson Julio from Liga MX's San Luis on Thursday and are working on another signing before the deadline, a source adds.

Real Salt Lake have enjoyed a solid start to the 2022 campaign, with 13 points from their first nine matches (3W-2L-4D record).