Atlanta United will make the loan signing of full-back Ronald Hernandez permanent ahead of the 2022 season, technical director Carlos Bocanegra has confirmed.
The Venezuela international was only used sparingly during his loan from Scottish side Aberdeen last season, making 13 MLS appearances and scoring one goal.
However, Hernandez was solid when he played and did enough to earn a permanent move to the 2018 MLS Cup champions. Keeping the 24-year-old could prove a valuable piece of business for Atlanta United with homegrown left-back George Bello being linked to Premier League side Watford.
What’s more, right-back Brooks Lennon was second among Five Stripes players for minutes played (2,649) in MLS last year and has been active with the USMNT over the winter, meaning a rest could be in order at some point in 2022.
Speaking to the media following Tuesday’s MLS SuperDraft – in which Atlanta United picked Erik Centeno, Tristan Trager, Daniel Bloyou, and Tola Showunmi – Bocanegra confirmed an agreement was in place between the two clubs for the transfer of Hernandez, and that Atlanta United’s business would not stop at the re-signing of Hernandez.
“In general, we’ll be looking to make two to three more signings before the season starts,” said the former Fulham defender.
Bocanegra then addressed questions regarding the contract situation of iconic striker Josef Martinez.
The Venezuelan has recently said he’d “rather die” than leave Atlanta United and that he’d choose the club “1,000 times over”. Martinez’s current deal runs until the end of the 2023 season and some saw this as an attempt to push forward negotiations for a new deal for the striker – who has 102 goals to his name in 132 games across all competitions for the Five Stripes.
But Bocanegra dismissed contract talks, insisting the two parties are “in a good place” and that neither has approached the other.
“We haven’t had any talks,” he said. “They haven’t approached us. We haven’t approached them. We’re in a good place. We got a long-term contract with him right now.”