The full-back arrived at Pittodrie for a reported six-figure fee two years ago from Norwegian team Stabaek, but only made six appearances before moving to Atlanta on loan later in 2020, with homesickness mooted as one of the reasons. He was given compassionate leave by the club not long after his arrival as the start of the Covid-19 pandemic made it increasingly hard to him to see his family.
The 24-year-old has been in the States ever since his original move to Atlanta, with a definitive agreement for his move sealed late on Monday evening. Aberdeen say that they have recouped a “substantial transfer fee” for Hernandez and have explained the finances behind the deal.
Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack said: “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.
“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.
Cormack also went on to defend the move for Hernandez, which came with scepticism from some parts of the Aberdeen support, revealing that a loan from his family originally financed the deal
“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.
“With Ronnie not being part of the football management team’s plans, and the toll on him being away from his family, we were left with the task of finding him a new club or putting him on loan. The club and his agent approached MLS/Atlanta and others. Atlanta was the only option that came to fruition on a loan basis, saving the club his wages and providing Ronnie the opportunity to get back playing. He has subsequently won back his place in the Venezuelan international team.”
Aberdeen finance director Kevin MacIver added: “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.”