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Atlanta United signs Watford academy product Dion Pereira

Jan 14, 2019; Marietta, GA, USA; Atlanta United head coach Frank de Boer (left) shown with team owner Arthur Blank (center) and Technical Manager Carlos Bocanegra during his introduction press conference at Childrens Healthcare of Atlanta Training Ground. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta United FC club president Darren Eales hinted at the Major League Soccer Cup champions making an addition on Tuesday, cryptically tweeting at 1:49 p.m. ET, “I feel a DP announcement coming…”

Minutes later, the club did indeed announce the signing of a “DP” — but not the type MLS fans are familiar with, the Designated Player.

The Five Stripes added Dion Pereira, a 19-year-old forward from England. He joins Atlanta United via transfer from Watford, an English Premier League side. Pereira’s contract is pending the receipt of his International Transfer Certificate and P-1 Visa.

“We’re pleased to welcome Dion to the club and look forward to him joining the squad as we head into the 2019 season,” Atlanta’s technical director Carlos Bocanegra said in a statement. “We identified him as a young, technical player who we believe will adapt well to Atlanta United and MLS.”

Pereira grew up in Watford’s academy system, joining it when he was just 9-years-old. Since 2016, Pereira has featured for Watford’s U-23 side, scoring 14 goals in 58 appearances. In 2017, he was Watford’s Young Player of the Season. He made two appearances for Watford’s senior side in EPL play.

Primarily a left winger, Pereira is the third signing Atlanta has made this offseason, joining midfielder Brek Shea and goalkeeper Brendan Moore. The Five Stripes also spent draft picks on midfielder Anderson Asiedu and winger Amir Bashti.

Pereira is already in Atlanta and trained with the team on Monday and Tuesday. He will occupy an international roster spot for the reigning MLS champs, unless he is loaned to their USL Championship affiliate, ATL UTD 2.

A transfer fee for Pereira has not been reported. The terms of his contract were not released.

On Tuesday afternoon, Pereira tweeted that he “can’t wait to get started” with the Five Stripes.

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