Atlanta United agrees MLS-record deal for Ezequiel Barco – sources
Independiente has reached an agreement in principle to send 18-year-old Ezequiel Barco to Major League Soccer side Atlanta United, sources have told ESPN Argentina’s Alejandro Ruzal.
The Argentine club has agreed to sell the budding star for a $15 million plus 30 percent of any future transfer before December of 2019, according to sources — which would be an MLS record.
It would smash the $10 million fee that Toronto FC paid Roma for Michael Bradley in 2013. Only a year ago, Atlanta also spent about $8.5 million to acquire Paraguayan standout Miguel Almiron from another Argentina club, Lanus.
The fee would also be the second-largest transfer fee for Independiente after the deal that sent Sergio Aguero to Atletico Madrid in 2006.
Neither club has yet to confirm the deal, though an MLS source told ESPN FC’s Jeff Carlisle that it was “close” to being completed.
Barco, who was under contract with Independiente until June 2019, helped his club win the Copa Sudamericana — South America’s second largest international tournament — by scoring a penalty in the second leg of the final against Flamengo in December.
In the domestic Argentina league, the attacking midfielder scored five goals in 38 appearances over the past two seasons.
Reports of the deal have been swirling for weeks, with an Independiente vice president saying Barco wouldn’t be sold for less than $20 million and Atlanta staying firm on a $12 million offer, but a compromise has now been reached.
Sources said the deal also has a provision that Independiente would receive 10 percent of any future transfer of the player if he leaves Atlanta after 2019.
The move continues a busy winter for Atlanta, which made the playoffs in its inaugural season under Argentine coach Gerardo Martino, while also breaking the MLS record for average attendance in a season at 48,200 fans.
The club has signed a pair of U.S. internationals in Darlington Nagbe and Greg Garza, and added to its formidable stack of young South American talent with defenders Franco Escobar, 22 from Argentina, and 20-year-old Jose Hernandez from Venezuela.
Almiron, 23, was named MLS’s top newcomer of 2017 and also had the league’s top-selling jersey. He is one of three designated players on the club along with Venezuelan star Josef Martinez, 24, and Argentine Hector Villalba, 23.
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