TRANSFER TRACKER STATUS: Transfer
“We want to thank Tito for his contribution and service to the club over the last three years,” Atlanta United Vice President and Technical Director Carlos Bocanegra said in a team release. “He did a lot for our club as our first Designated Player and we wish him nothing but the best of luck in his future.”
UPDATE: Jan. 29, 9:50 pm EST – After initial reports on Tuesday of Hector Villalba's possible departure from Atlanta United, a destination has now surfaced for the Argentine-born winger.
As first reported by Paul Tenorio of The Athletic, Villalba is apparently being sold to Club Libertad in Paraguay for a seven-figure sum. The move would come three-and-a-half years after he first joined the Five Stripes.
#ATLUTD's Tito Villalba will be sold to Libertad in Paraguay, per sources. Transfer fee in low seven-figures.— Paul Tenorio (@PaulTenorio) January 29, 2020
Reporting with @FelipeCar and @jeffrueter. https://t.co/gLnFgQPeeB pic.twitter.com/v1somF1hAm
After Tenorio's story, Doug Roberson of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution also reported that Club Libertad will be Villalba's landing spot.
Villalba destination is Libertad in Paraguay. #atlutd.— Doug Roberson (@DougRobersonAJC) January 29, 2020
It's a possibility, according to a Tuesday report from Doug Roberson of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution citing sources that say the Five Stripes are shopping the winger to clubs outside MLS, likely in Paraguay.
Villalba had been with Atlanta at its preseason training camp in Bradenton, Florida but reportedly departed on Sunday.
Should it come to fruition, Villalba's exit would mark another departure for an Atlanta United fan-favorite in an eventful offseason that has already seen a couple additional key players move on to new clubs. Midfielder Darlington Nagbe was the first to go following a November trade that saw him sent to Columbus Crew SC. That was followed by last week's blockbuster trade of Julian Gressel, who was shipped to D.C. United after he couldn't agree with the club on terms for a new contract.
Villalba, 25, has been one of Atlanta's most beloved players since he arrived as the club's first Designated Player ahead of its 2017 expansion season from Argentine side San Lorenzo and had a phenomenal rookie season that saw him score 13 goals and dish out 11 assists while starting all 34 games. He posted a solid 7g/9a line in 21 starts in 2018, but only played 938 minutes over 10 starts last season as he was limited by injury and never seemed to be an ideal fit for head coach Frank de Boer's structured style.
According to the AJC report, Villalba requested an assurance that he would get more playing time this season as he looked to make a case for inclusion on Paraguay's national team for the Copa Améeica — an assurance that reportedly couldn't be made.