Frank de Boer has emerged as a frontrunner for the vacant Atlanta United head coaching position, according to a Saturday report by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Soccer reporter Doug Roberson, who covers Atlanta United, cited a source familiar with the situation and confirmed ex-Columbus Crew SC star Guillermo Barros Schelotto and former FC Barcelona captain Carles Puyol were also in the running.
The AJC reporting lines up with Dutch outlet NOS, which claims that De Boer is set to sign a four-year deal with Atlanta, taking the MLS job over a potential opportunity with Belgian giants Anderlecht.
Citing multiple sources, ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle on Friday reported that De Boer, who most recently had short spells in charge of Crystal Palace and Inter Milan, is considered a candidate to coach the Five Stripes and would likely bring longtime assistant Orlando Trustfull with him if he's appointed.
I'm told that if Frank de Boer does end up in Atlanta, he'll bring longtime assistant Orlando Trustfull with him. #ATLUTD— Jeff Carlisle (@JeffreyCarlisle) December 21, 2018
The 48-year-old former Dutch standout defender was an assistant coach for the Netherlands before taking over for famed squad Ajax, the club where he started his playing career. In a successful six-year run, De Boer became the first manager to win four consecutive Dutch Eredivisie titles and in 2012 was named the league’s manager of the year.
His tenure at Inter Milan lasted just 85 days and he was then fired just five games into the 2017-18 English Premier League season after Crystal Palace failed to score one league goal.
Prior to his coaching days, De Boer was a legendary Dutch defender, playing for Ajax, Barcelona, Galatasaray and Rangers, winning the UEFA Champions League title in 1995 and five Eredivisie crowns with Ajax and a league championship with Barcelona in 1998-99. He also played in a pair of FIFA World Cups and three European Championships with the Netherlands.
In what would be a more outside-the-box hire, Atlanta have also been connected to former FC Barcelona captain Carles Puyol, according to beIN Sports reporter Patrick Meehan Nader:
Lo que me cuentan...— Patrick Meehan Nader (@Pixterrey) December 21, 2018
Atlanta United busca DT y tienen varias opciones
Su candidato número 1 y al que más quieren es Carles Puyol. pic.twitter.com/itBApSv8Bt
A World Cup and European Championship winner with Spain, who also won a slew of trophies as a one-club man at Barcelona, Puyol has no prior coaching experience. However, Nader notes that Puyol has obtained his coaching license and has been studying English for three years in the United States. Puyol, who wore the captain's armband for 10 years at Camp Nou, also played under Martino while the latter was coach there from 2013-14.
Former Columbus Crew SC standout Guillermo Barros Schelotto, who most recently stepped down as Boca Juniors boss, has also been linked with the job, while Jose Mourinho’s firing at Manchester United has spurred a flurry of hopeful speculation that he resurfaces in Major League Soccer.
Carlisle, though, poured cold water on the Schelotto possibility with Darren Eales telling ESPN FC he wanted a manager to emulate Martino's possession, high-pressing tactical approach.