At last, Atlanta United complete record-breaking Ezequiel Barco signing

TRANSFER TRACKER: Signing

After weeks of rumors and reports, it's finally official: Ezequiel Barco will be wearing an Atlanta United jersey this season.

Atlanta officially anounced Friday they have signed the 18-year-old Argentine attacking midfielder from Independiente as a Young Designated Player. Barco will be added to Atlanta's roster pending receipt of his International Transfer Certificate and P1 via.

Barco joins Atlanta for a reported MLS-record transfer fee of $15 million, exceeding the $10 million Toronto FC reportedly paid to acquire Michael Bradley from AS Roma in 2013.

According to ESPN.com, the deal also includes a stipulation that Independiente receive 30 percent of any future transfer fee paid to Atlanta for Barco up to and through December 2019, and 10 percent of any such fee paid thereafter.

“Securing a player of Ezequiel’s caliber is another significant moment in Atlanta United history,” Atlanta United president Darren Eales said in a team statement. “This transfer further demonstrates the commitment of our club to bring top level, dynamic young players to Atlanta and to MLS. We are excited to welcome Ezequiel to our club and our city.”

The deal comes after what appear to have been long, protracted negotiations between the upstart MLS side and one of Argentina's Big Five clubs, and in part based on the Argentina youth international's own desire to move on after helping Independiente to the 2017 Copa Sudamericana title.

Barco has 57 appearances for Independiente across all competitions, including 12 during their Copa Sudamericana title run. He scored three goals in the 2017 competition, including an equalizer from the penalty spot in the second leg of their final against Brazil's Flamengo, a goal that was enough to ensure Independiente's aggregate victory.

“It speaks to the type of club that we’re becoming that Ezequiel chose to sign with our club over several European competitors,” Atlanta United vice president and technical director Carlos Bocanegra said. “As one of the top young players in South America who has been a fixture in the Argentinian youth national team setup, we’re elated that he’s decided to continue his career in Atlanta.”

His arrival in Atlanta extends the Five Stripes' track record of attracting top South American prospects under Argentine head coach Gerardo "Tata" Martino and technical director Carlos Bocanegra. Atlanta's top four scorers in their 2017 expansion season were all natives of CONMEBOL nations (Josef Martinez - Venezuela; Hector Villalba - Argentina; Miguel Almiron - Paraguay; Yamil Asad - Argentina).

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