Why Arsenal should sign Atlanta youngster Ezequiel Barco
Meanwhile, the Gunners are not the only side that is targeting the 20-year old Argentine. The attacking midfielder has caught the attention of familiar foes Manchester United too (h/t Metro).
However, Portuguese outfit Sporting Lisbon seem to be first in contention to make a move for the young talent, as claimed by Record.
Barco moved to Atlanta United from Argentina side Independiente for a record fee of £11.6million in January 2018. Back then, South American was Atlanta’s highest-ever transfer signing in MLS history.
During his time at Independiente, he registered a tally of 8 goals and 6 assists in 51 appearances.
The youngster played a decisive role in helping Independiente grab the 2017 Copa Sudamericana title, overcoming Brazilian side Flamengo 3-2 on aggregate.
In his debut season with the MLS side, Barco scored 4 times and provided 6 assists in 26 appearances across competitions.
Predominantly an attacking midfielder, Barco has been deployed as a left-winger at Atlanta this season. However, it has been a year filled with ups and downs for the Argentine after injuring his knee twice.
Still, the youngster has scored 4 goals and provided 2 assists in 15 league matches this season.
Meanwhile, Arsenal are in troubled waters after a poor start to the season. The Gunners are currently 8th in the league, with their hopes of a Champions League berth still hanging in the balance.
The Gunners have scored a mere 18 goals while conceding 19 till now. A major portion of their goals has been scored by star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who has 8 to his name. The rest of the attackers have failed to put up impressive displays.
Emery’s summer signing from Lille, Nicolas Pepe, has not lived up to the expectations and is still adjusting to the English conditions.
The lack of goals from other players upfront clearly depicts Arsenal’s dearth of solid attack-minded wingers.
Arsenal have two players – Bukayo Saka and Reiss Nelson – who can play wide across the flanks. However, Saka is just 18 while Nelson is 19 and hence, both of them lack experience.
As a result, Emery opted to play the in-form Aubameyang on the wide areas to add balance to a squad which lacks quality wingers.
Hence, Arsenal targeting the young Barco does not come off as a surprise. Also, veteran playmaker Mesut Ozil is past his 30s and he looks like a mere shadow of his past. Although Ozil has once again made a comeback into the side, he is yet to open his account after making 4 appearances.
The versatile Barco, with his speed and dribbling abilities, would offer Arsenal some much-needed creativity. He could also be a worthy replacement for Ozil.
At such a young age, the Argentine has already proven his mettle by winning the MLS Cup (2017-18) and the US Open Cup (2018-19) with Atlanta United.
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All in all, Barco would be a worthy addition to a side that has a shortage of good attackers, as has been evident from their poor displays this year.