Insider notes: Atlanta United FC's pursuit of Andres Guardado
Mexican star Andrés Guardado is suspended for Thursday’s game against Jamaica after being sent off for two yellows against Uruguay, but the chatter is growing about the possibility that Guardado, 29, could be the first major signing for MLS expansion team Atlanta United FC.
Atlanta’s interest, first reported by ESPN’s John Sutcliffe, is real, and MLS league sources have been able to add more details to the picture. Atlanta has been told that Guardado would need to be paid $3.5 to $4 million a year, and he would join the club in January 2017. Guardado does have two years left on his PSV Eindhoven contract, so a transfer fee would be required.
All of that said, there are concerns in MLS that Atlanta is being used by Guardado to get a better contract from PSV, which just won the Eredivisie and will be in next season's Champions League. Guardado could be a hit in Atlanta, where he scored the lone goal in a 1-0 pre-Copa America win over Paraguay in front of over 63,000 fans at the Georgia Dome.
Atlanta United made a splash on the other end of the player spectrum on Thursday, signing 15-year-old U.S. Under-17 midfielder Andrew Carleton to a Homegrown Player contract.
Here are a couple of more insider items from around the world:
Gulati's role in Scala/Infantino conflict
U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati, a member of the FIFA Council, was asked in his media roundtable on Tuesday about his role in the dispute between FIFA president Gianni Infantino and Domenico Scala, who resigned his post as FIFA’s audit and compliance committee head.
It emerged last week that Gulati had been a go-between in the dispute, which was partly the result of Infantino’s disappointment over Scala’s salary offer.
Gulati maintained that he was acting as a mediator in the dispute, not as Infantino’s henchman to persuade the independent Scala to resign. Scala ended up resigning last month only after Infantino pushed a measure through the FIFA Congress that removed the independence of Scala and other FIFA oversight committee heads.
“I think Domenico brought many, many positives to the process over the last few years,” Gulati said. “[He’s] somebody I got to know well and respect, and I wish the outcomes had been different. Without getting into a lot of details, I get along obviously very well with Gianni and have a lot of respect, and I think the feeling is mutual with Domenico. So it was a natural state of events that we tried to help them come to a resolution that was probably better than the one we ended up with.”
“There was obviously some tension between [Scala] and the president,” Gulati continued. “I’m not going to make any bones about that. That’s absolutely the case, and I think it’s pretty clear they didn’t have a working relationship of any sort.”
Reached by SI.com, Scala’s spokesperson refused to comment on Gulati’s role last month.
No permanent combined Copa talks, yet
A report came out Monday that an agreement had nearly been finalized that this special combined Copa América would happen every four years moving forward in the United States. On Tuesday, U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati denied that was the case. A CONCACAF source says that CONCACAF and CONMEBOL are so busy trying to run this tournament that no talks have taken place, but they likely will happen after this tournament is over.
Still, even if the combined Copa ends up happening every four years, the CONCACAF source said staging it in the U.S. every time is unlikely.