Atlanta United and head coach Tata Martino have a mutual option to extend his contract following the season, club president Darren Eales told MLSsoccer.com on Friday.
Martino is guaranteed through the end of the current season on the initial deal he signed with Atlanta ahead of their expansion season in 2017. Eales said that the club and the former Barcelona and Argentina manager have the option to extend that contract for multiple years once his current deal expires at the end of 2018.
Eales and the club are thrilled with Martino, who led the Five Stripes as they became the first expansion team to qualify for the playoffs since 2009 last season and currently has the club in first-place in the Supporters’ Shield standings.
“Tata is guaranteed through the end of this year and then there are options going forward,” said Eales. “But look, the great thing is I think Tata is having a whale of a time – you can see that by just looking at him. And hats off to what he’s done and what [technical director] Carlos [Bocanegra] and [VP of soccer operations] Paul [McDonough] have done, but for him to have the team in our second season top of the Supporters’ Shield standings, playing the way we have, it’s been amazing.
“Obviously he’s been a key part of what we’ve been able to build here at Atlanta United and he loves it here. He had three years previously of coaching [Leo] Messi and in every press conference being asked about Messi’s haircut or whatever it is, whereas now being with Atlanta United and getting back to soccer and focusing on the field, which he loves and is his passion, so he’s really happy here. We’re really happy with him here. So, we’re obviously in constant communication, but we’re in a good place there.”
Eales also said that Atlanta won’t sell stars Miguel Almiron, Josef Martinez or any of their other key players this summer. Almiron and Martinez have both been the subject of transfer rumors from big clubs on both sides of the Atlantic in recent weeks, but Eales said that Atlanta have not received an official transfer offer for either this summer.
Martino indicated last month that Atlanta wouldn’t sell either player until after the season at the earliest.
“We’re definitely not going to move anybody in summer,” he said. “I’ve spoken before about our sort of big players, we’ve always spoken about the plan was to bring those younger players in that had European dreams and to develop them and increase their value and, at the right time, move them on. But the right time will be when its right to the player, and that’s really important, it’s got to be the right club at the right time for the players, it’s got to be right for MLS, but, ultimately and most importantly, it’s got to be right for Atlanta United.
“And the great thing for us is we’re not under that pressure to sell anyone. We don’t have financial incentives to do that. We’ve got crowds of 70,000, there’s wonderful facilities here and we’ve got an owner that is incredibly, ultra-competitive, so we’re in that brilliant position where we can wait for when the time is right for everybody.”
Eales also reiterated Bocanegra’s comments from earlier this month that Atlanta won’t be making any other additions to their squad in the secondary transfer window.