"Special players": Thiago Almada, Luiz Araujo show quality for Atlanta United
For Atlanta United, there’s been a belief that as their star attacking players train more, moments of connectivity and production will arrive more regularly.
Atlanta United signed forward Luiz Araújo (pronounced Ahra-OO-joo) as a Designated Player via transfer from Lille OSC on Aug. 6, 2021. The Brazilian went on to tally four goals and four assists in 15 MLS appearances during the second half of the 2021 MLS season. Araújo played in 136 matches at Lille over four seasons and helped lead the club to the Ligue 1 title during the 2020-21 season.
Araújo, 25, joined Lille in 2017 from São Paulo FC, where he began his career. Born in Taquaritinga, Brazil, Araújo broke through at the 2016 U-20 CONMEBOL Libertadores where he was the tournament’s leading scorer with five goals and helped lead São Paulo to the championship. Over two years, he made 49 career appearances with São Paulo and scored nine goals. He then made the move to France ahead of the 2017-18 season.
For Lille, Araújo made an immediate impact, appearing in 34 of the club’s Ligue 1 matches that season, while scoring five goals and registering two assists as Lille avoided relegation. The following year, Lille jumped all the way to finishing second in the table, as Araújo made 25 appearances and scored three goals. He continued to play a contributing role for the 2019-20 season, making 21 appearances as Lille finished in fourth. He also appeared in all six of Lille’s UEFA Champions League matches. But it was during the 2020-21 season where Araújo made his mark, appearing in 28 games with 17 starts for the French champions. In addition to winning the league – its first league title in 10 years – Lille finished with 83 points, its best-ever finish in the club’s 77-year history. Araújo started the 2021 Trophée des Champions match against Paris St. Germain on Aug. 1. Lille won the match 1-0 to claim its first-ever trophy in the competition.
2021 (Atlanta United): Araújo joined the team during the secondary transfer window on Aug. 6 and went on to start 13 of his 15 appearances MLS appearances. Scored four goals and added four assists. Recorded first MLS goal and first assist in a 4-0 win against FC Cincinnati on Sept. 15. MLS Cup Playoffs: Started Atlanta’s match against New York City FC.
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