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Aberdeen sell Ronald Hernandez to Atlanta United for ‘substantial transfer fee’ with ‘significant’ sell-on clause built into deal

Ronald Hernandez.
Ronald Hernandez.

Aberdeen have confirmed Venezuelan right-back Ronald Hernandez has signed a permanent deal with Atlanta United, moving to the US for a ‘substantial transfer fee’.

On Wednesday, the Press and Journal reported Hernandez, 24, was expected to complete a permanent move to the Major League Soccer (MLS) side – the Dons’ strategic partners – having spent 2021 on loan with the Five Stripes.

The confirmation of the deal, subject to receipt of the player’s International Transfer Certificate (ITC), draws a line under £850,000 signing Hernandez’s disappointing Aberdeen career.

A Dons statement on the structure of the deal with Atlanta said: “The club has secured a substantial transfer fee, over and above the loan fee (paid by Atlanta) in 2021 with AFC retaining a significant sell-on for the player.”

Reds chairman Dave Cormack told the club website: “This is a good outcome for the club and for Ronnie. We’ve recouped the vast majority of our investment in the player with the potential for future returns through a sizeable sell-on.

“It’s also good for Ronnie, who is now settled in the States with his wife and children.”

Overall, Hernandez made six appearances for Aberdeen, with just three starts.

Arriving from Norwegian side Stabaek in January 2020 under previous Reds boss Derek McInnes, Hernandez came to Pittodrie on a long-term contract, having played against Lionel Messi’s Argentina in the Copa America, but struggled to make an impact in Scottish football.

Various factors were blamed including being separated from his family, who were stranded in Venezuela due to the Covid pandemic, and a change in formation implemented by McInnes.

Rangers’ Ryan Kent (left) holds off Aberdeen’s Ronald Hernandez in the 2020-21 Premiership opener.

The full-back was allowed compassionate leave to return home to his family towards the end of 2020, and was subsequently loaned out to Atlanta, where he eventually played his way back into the international fold.

Current Reds gaffer Stephen Glass had recently made it clear Hernandez was not part of his plans going forward and could leave permanently in the winter window.

Appearing to hit out at suggestions Hernandez had always been signed with a view to him eventually moving to partners Atlanta down the line, US-based businessman Cormack added: “As the club has stated on numerous occasions, there was nothing out of the ordinary in this signing or subsequent loan and transfer.

“Ronnie is a super player, with a great attitude and professionalism and we’re obviously disappointed it didn’t work out for him or us at Aberdeen.

“He was identified as a young talented international right-back which was a position that our football management team wanted to address. He was known to AFC, but under contract. Atlanta United’s scouts recommended Ronnie too, from their vast experience of recruiting South American players. The football management team did their homework, spoke with the player, knew the transfer fee, and made the decision to sign the player, subject to board approval.

“The investment for Ronnie’s transfer came from an interest-free loan from my family, which was subsequently converted to shares. The board believed this to be a good investment for the club.

“Had we any inclination that he would rarely play, we would never have signed him.”

Cormack insisted Hernandez signed for Aberdeen with a “view to developing and then moving to England or Europe in two to three seasons under a deal where both the club and player would benefit from his time with us.”

Aberdeen finance director Kevin MacIver was also quoted as saying: “Ronnie has always been our player.

“This deal with Atlanta United means that they have not only effectively taken on Hernandez’s full wages for the remainder of his contract with Aberdeen, but are paying a significant fee for his transfer, whilst we retain a very good sell-on for the future.”