MARIETTA, Ga. — Atlanta United manager Frank de Boer confirmed Tuesday that Darlington Nagbe is back in first-team training and will be part of the 20-man squad that visits CS Herediano in the Concacaf Champions League on Thursday night (10 pm ET | YahooSports.com, Univision Deportes), perhaps quieting talk the midfielder was pushing for a trade.
Nagbe admitted he arrived a day late to the team’s training camp in southern California and departed early for what Frank de Boer called “personal issues.” Nagbe said he harbors no ill will toward anyone at the club, including the team’s front office, and that he’s happy to have rejoined the first team in training.
“They wanted me to focus more on what was going on, and I was happy to do that,” said Nagbe. “They let me come back home and take care of that. I’m looking forward to the season now.”
Nagbe was rumored to be on his way out of Atlanta after DIrty South Soccer reported that the US international was trying to force a move to Columbus Crew SC, where his former coach and friend, Caleb Porter, has taken charge.
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“You know, there’s been a lot of speculation about Columbus,” said Nagbe. “I can see how that can happen. I’m from there, my former coach is there. But like I said, I’m happy to be here and I’m looking forward to the season.”
Manager Frank de Boer told media that Nagbe’s lack of participation was not disciplinary, but instead was the choice of the player.
“I’ve had certain conversations with him. I said ‘okay, it’s a personal decision and I have to respect that of course, but you’re always welcome to our team,’” said de Boer. “He’s a very gentle and humble person and everybody likes him here at the club. That’s why it’s so easy for him to come back in the team.”
Nagbe refused to elaborate on details of his “personal decision” and why he now feels ready to participate in first team training. For now, he says he’s purely focused on regaining his place in the first team.
“[I’m] just gaining the trust of the coaches,” said Nagbe. “Obviously the coaching staff hasn’t seen me as much as last year's, even though there’s tape and stuff. I’m looking forward to working hard, I’m looking forward to the season, and hopefully getting some games in and gaining their trust back."