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Martino to leave Atlanta United at end of season: club

Los Angeles (AFP) – Atlanta United coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino is to leave the club at the end of the season, officials confirmed Tuesday amid speculation linking the former Argentina coach to a return to international football.

Atlanta, who have comfortably reached Major League Soccer’s post-season, confirmed Martino’s departure after “amicable” talks over a contract negotiation ended without an agreement.

“This was not an easy decision to make,” Martino said. “I have enjoyed my time with Atlanta United very much and am proud of what we have accomplished together in such a short time.

“The decision was not made for financial reasons, negotiations with the front office were transparent and fair. It was simply the right move for me and my family at this time.”

Martino has overseen Atlanta’s burgeoning success in MLS since the expansion side made their debut last season. 

The club reached the playoffs at the first attempt last year and have again qualified this season. They can clinch the Eastern Conference title if they win their final regular season game this week.  

“The opportunity to build a team from the start does not come along often, and I am grateful to the club and to the fans for putting their trust in me to establish a solid foundation here in Atlanta,” Martino said. 

“What is most important now is that the focus remains on our goals for this season.”

Martino, 55, joined Atlanta after two years as Argentina coach from 2014 to 2016, where he guided the team to the final of the 2015 and 2016 Copa America tournaments.

Recent reports have suggested he is close to returning to international football as coach of Mexico.

Atlanta United president Darren Eales said Martino would leave with the club’s blessing.

“True to his reputation, he has been an incredible leader and has set us up for great success moving forward,” Eales said.

“He will be missed, but we understand and appreciate his reasons for moving on to spend time with family and take on new challenges.”

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