Atlanta United sign defender Franco Escobar from Newell's Old Boys


Atlanta United have made their first big splash of the offseason on Friday, completing a long-rumored deal deal to bring Argentine defender Franco Escobar to the club from Newell's Old Boys.

The 22-year-old is the latest player to arrive from Atlanta head coach Gerardo 'Tata' Martino's home country. Though terms of the deal were not disclosed, Argentine media reported at the end of October that Escobar would be signing on a three-year deal.

“Franco is a physical and versatile defender, capable of playing anywhere along the backline,” said Atlanta United vice president and technical director Carlos Bocanegra in a statement provided by the team. “He’s a young player who has already featured often in the Argentina Primera Division and he brings a level of toughness that will suit MLS and benefit our club immediately.”

A native of Rosario, Argentina, Escobar has made 34 career appearances in the Argentine Primera Division, splitting time between center back and right back. He made his professional debut with Newell’s Old Boys – the club where Martino starred as a player and later won a league title as a coach – on June 7, 2015 against Boca Juniors and went on to make 15 starts during the season.

During the 2016-17 season, Escobar made 12 starts and helped lead Newell’s to an 11th place finish, qualifying the club for the 2018 Copa Sundamericana. Most recently, he started his first match of the 2017-18 season on Nov. 26, helping Newell’s defeat River Plate 3-1.

The move will help shore up an Atlanta backline that has seen four defenders – including starting right back Tyrone Mears and veteran center back Bobby Boswell – part ways with the club in the offseason. Escobar is Atlanta's fifth addition for the 2018 season, following former USL Goalkeeper of the Year Mitch Hildebrandt and a trio of academy products.

ATLAtlanta United FC
ROSTERED PLAYERS (25 of 30 spots filled as of Dec. 8, 2017):

GK (3): Brad Guzan, Mitch Hildebrandt, Alec Kann
DEF (7): Mikey Ambrose, George Bello (HG), Franco Escobar (INT'L), Greg Garza, Leandro Gonzalez Pirez (INT'L), Michael Parkhurst, Miles Robinson (GA)
MID (7): Miguel Almiron (DP, INT'L), Andrew Carleton (HG), Carlos Carmona (INT'L), Chris Goslin (HG), Julian Gressel (INT'L), Kevin Kratz (INT'L), Chris McCann
FWD (8): Lagos Kunga (HG), Josef Martinez (DP, INT'L), Patrick Okonkwo (HG), Jacob Peterson, Brandon Vazquez, Hector Villalba (DP, INT'L), Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu, Romario Williams (INT'L)

STATUS TO BE DETERMINED (3): Jeff Larentowicz (in negotiations after contract expired), Yamil Asad (loan from Velez Sarsfield expired), Anton Walkes (loan from Tottenham Hotspur expired)

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