Ezequiel Barco bids Independiente goodbye amid Atlanta United links
Budding Argentina star Ezequiel Barco said farewell to Independiente on Wednesday, but was coy about reports linking him with an enormous $12 million move to MLS club Atlanta United.
Speaking after Independiente won the Copa Sudamericana 3-2 on aggregate over Flamengo, Barco said he had played his final game for his boyhood club, despite being under contract until June 2019.
"I am very happy about the title we won, but this is my goodbye to the club," Barco told TyC Sports. "I did not want to go out without winning some title and at least we got this one."
Atlanta United are keen to acquire the 18-year-old, according to multiple reports in recent weeks, including TyC Sports and Clarin, which said negotiations between Independiente and Atlanta began a month. The MLS club has repeatedly declined to comment to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution.
Asked specifically about reports regarding a possible move to MLS with Atlanta United, Barco said: "Right now I want to enjoy this very important moment and then we shall see.
"We are delighted with this great triumph and to be champions. I dedicate the goal to my grandfather who recently passed away."
He also said he hoped to return to play for Independiente one day in the future.
A $12 million transfer would be the largest-ever fee ever paid by an MLS team, eclipsing the $10 million that Toronto FC paid for Michael Bradley in 2014.
Atlanta United already has three designated players in Almiron, Hector Villalba and Josef Martinez but could buy down one of the contracts with targeted allocation money, which MLS recently announced would get a significant increase next season.
Atlanta gave up a significant chuck of that allocation money to acquire U.S. midfielder Darlington Nagbe from the Portland Timbers on Wednesday.
Adriana Garcia is a Valencia-based football writer who covers La Liga for ESPN FC.