Atlanta United appear to have landed a couple of big names, with reports emerging on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning that the 2017 expansion club is nearing agreements with Argentine midfielder Hector Villalba and Trinidad and Tobago striker Kenwyne Jones.
Argentine club San Lorenzo announced on Tuesday evening that they have sold Villalba to MLS, pending a medical exam he'll receive in Miami in the coming days. The 21-year-old has been repeatedly linked to Atlanta over the past month, with Argentine outlet Ole reporting last week that Atlanta offered San Lorenzo a $2.5 million transfer fee for the winger.
Transferido a la @MLS, Héctor Villalba regresó a Bs. As. y partirá a Miami donde se realizará estudios médicos para luego concretar el pase.— San Lorenzo (@SanLorenzo) July 12, 2016
Villalba has spent his entire career with San Lorenzo, coming up through the youth ranks before turning pro in 2012. He’s made 89 appearances for the club in the Argentine Primera Division and was a key part of the San Lorenzo squad that won the 2014 Copa Libertadores. That 2014 team also featured Montreal Impact attacker Ignacio Piatti and New York Red Bulls Designated Player Gonzalo Veron.
If signed, Villalba would presumably go out on loan for the remainder of 2016, with Mexican side Club Tijuana reportedly an option to land him until Atlanta begins play in 2017.
In addition to potentially acquiring Villalba, the Washington Post’s Steve Goff reported on Wednesday morning that Atlanta are close to signing Jones, a longtime veteran of the Trinidad and Tobago national team.
The 31-year-old has played nearly the entirety of his career in the English Premier League and Championship, spending time with Southampton, Sunderland, Stoke City and Cardiff City, among others. He was sent on loan from Cardiff to UAE-based club Al Jazira in January before being released by Cardiff following the end of the Championship season.
The captain of the Trinidad and Tobago national team, Jones has 23 goals in 81 career appearances for his country. He performed particularly well at the CONCACAF Gold Cup last summer, after which he reportedly drew MLS interest. Goff reported that Jones, like Villalba, would go on loan for the remainder of 2016 if signed by Atlanta.