Atlanta United

Atlanta United receive loan-to-buy offer for Ezequiel Barco

Chris Smith
Barco has 19 goals and 18 assists to his name for Atlanta United.
Barco has 19 goals and 18 assists to his name for Atlanta United. / Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
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Atlanta United forward Ezequiel Barco is the subject of an offer from Brazilian club Internacional.

The Five Stripes are set to sign fellow Argentine Thiago Almada from Velez Sarsfield this off-season, but must first clear one of their three Designated Player (DP) spots to allow for his salary.

Josef Martinez is an icon around the club while Luiz Araujo only joined midway through the 2021 campaign. That leaves Barco, who Atlanta picked up from Independiente in 2018 and likely always intended to try and move on for a profit at some point.

As with so many South Americans that come into MLS nowadays, Europe would have been the target for Barco. But according to Buenos Aires-based journalist Cesar Luis Merlo, it is Brazilian top-flight side Internacional who have made an offer.

Merlo's report states that Inter's offer is to initially bring Barco to the Estádio Beira-Rio on loan, with an option to sign the 22-year-old on a permanent basis thereafter.

At the time of his arrival in January 2018, Barco was the most expensive player in MLS history, costing the Five Stripes a reported $15m - a lofty fee thanks in part to his role in Independiente's 2017 Copa Sudamericana triumph.

But Barco has struggled to consistently make a return on that investment, with fitness issues and patchy form making him a frustrating figure at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The forward's best spell came following his return from the Tokyo Olympics in early August, when Barco went on to register six goals and five assists in his next nine MLS appearances. Overall, the 21-time Argentina youth international ended the campaign with seven goals and six assists.

A loan-to-buy certainly wouldn't have been the original plan for Atlanta United when signing Barco, but they stand little chance of recouping the $15m they spent on him four years ago. With his contract expiring in December, the Five Stripes must now consider all options available to them.

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