Is the drama finally over? Is Ezequiel Barco finally on his way to Atlanta United?
Multiple reports from South America, specifically sources close to Independiente, are suggesting both sides have finally reached an agreement.
According to sources close to Independiente, the Argentine giants and Atlanta United have finally come to terms with an agreement for 18-year-old Argentine starlet Ezequiel Barco to come to MLS and Atlanta United for a reported fee of $15 million plus 30% of any sale if Barco is sold on from the Five Stripes before 2020, and 10% if sold after 2020.
Reports that Atlanta United were interested in Ezequiel Barco began to surface during the teenager’s heroic Copa Sudamericana performances that saw Barco impress scouts from all over the world on the way to capturing one of South America’s biggest club cup competitions. In fact, it was these exact performances that led to the delay in negotiations between ATLUTD and Independiente. Reports had begun to surface that some of Spain’s biggest clubs Atletico Madrid and Valencia were interested and may offer more than Atlanta United would. These reports caused Independiente to get cold feet and second guess how much Barco was truly worth, especially considering that just one year earlier, Real Madrid paid $54.6 million for a 17-year-old, Vinicius Junior, that whose performances were not as considered as impressive as Barco’s this year. However, the poor economic situation regarding the clubs in Argentina at the moment, coupled with Barco’s keenness to play for Atlanta boss Tata Martino, the saga came to a head in recent days as Barco has failed to report for Independiente’s preseason training this week, it seems that Independiente has settled for the $15 million offer the Five Stripes have tabled.
Such a move would put the rest of MLS on notice if completed. With the Five Stripes already making a power move this offseason by acquiring Darlington Nagbe from the Portland Timbers, Atlanta United already have an embarrassment of riches in the attacking positions. Adding Barco and Nagbe to an already potent attack and barring any kind of transfer that would move Miguel Almiron, Josef Martinez or Tito Villalba away from the Five Stripes, Atlanta United are quickly becoming odds-on favorites to challenge Toronto FC for MLS Cup. Such a task would be impressive considering TFC is fresh off a record breaking, history making season that saw them capture MLS Cup, Supporter’s Shield and Canadian Championship. Atlanta United and its fans hope to be in that same position in a year’s time.
Llegaste como un chico. Te formaste en la pensión y te vas como un hombre campeón.
Todo pasa, la gloria es eterna.
— C. A. Independiente (@Independiente) January 12, 2018
The Five Stripe faithful should have nothing but smiles on their faces come March, all thanks to the Atlanta United organization’s ambition and determination to become the best, something that Atlanta sports fans have been yearning for.
Matt Fowler | @Mattlanta