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Independiente want Ezequiel Barco stay amid Atlanta United speculation

Ezequiel Barco celebrates a goal for Independiente against Flamengo.
Ezequiel Barco is an Argentina under-20 international.

Independiente president Hugo Moyano is hoping to convince Ezequiel Barco to remain at the club amid claims the 18-year-old midfielder is weighing up an offer from Atlanta United in Major League Soccer.

Barco is under contract with Independiente until June 2019 but reports in Argentina claim Atlanta are willing to pay his $12 million release clause and that the youngster is set to leave.

Asked about Barco's future at Independiente, Moyano told TyC Sports: "It's not easy but it's not impossible. We are going to make the effort. We are going to ask Barco to stay. We hope to reach an agreement and that all parties come together so that this happens.

"As much as we have the need to keep players like him, we can never match what players earn in certain parts of the world. The issue is that players see that they can earn a lot more money abroad than here as Argentinian clubs are in no condition to take on those [financial] responsibilities."

A youth product of Independiente, Barco made 24 Superliga Argentina appearances in the 2016-17 campaign, his debut season with the senior team.

He has been a regular for coach Ariel Holan this season and started and converted a penalty in a 1-1 draw at Flamengo on Wednesday, a result that earned Independiente a 3-2 aggregate win in the Copa Sudamericana final.

He has remained tight-lipped about his future with reports that Wednesday's game was his last for Independiente, but on Thursday he told ESPN Argentina that nothing is yet set with Atlanta United coach and fellow Argentina  Gerardo "Tata" Martino. 

"No. As of yet, I haven't been able to have a conversation with Tata because [the deal with the MLS] is not closed yet. I think it is supposed to be finished this afternoon or tomorrow morning, so I must wait to talk to him," Blanco said. 

A $12m transfer would be the largest fee ever paid by an MLS team, eclipsing the $10m that Toronto FC paid for Michael Bradley in 2014.

"He has a lot of prowess," Moyano said of the Argentina under-20 international. "He is not just a teenager that plays better every day but each day he is liked more by how he plays.

"But I reiterate that players have their reasons at times and the career of a footballer is short. They see that they have the opportunity to earn enough to live a comfortable life later on."

Adriana Garcia is a Valencia-based football writer who covers La Liga for ESPN FC.

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