Ezequiel Barco - Atlanta United - April 13, 2019
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Italian giants Napoli targeting Atlanta United's Ezequiel Barco

Could a strong run of form lead to a big-money move for Atlanta United's Ezequiel Barco?

That's potentially the case according to Italian outlet Tuttosport, which reported on Saturday that Serie A side Napoli are targeting the playmaker after his strong showing at the U-20 World Cup with Argentina. There is a caveat however, as they are reportedly only interested in bringing him in if they fail to sign Mexican star Hirving Lozano. Lozano and Napoli have been circling each other for months.

Potential holdups for the deal include the large transfer fee Atlanta paid to bring Barco to MLS and that his old club, Independiente, still own 30% of his rights. This means the transfer fee Napoli would have to pay to acquire Barco — and make it make sense for Atlanta — would likely be more than Newcastle United paid for Miguel Almiron.

Barco helped lead Argentina to the Round of 16 at the U-20 World Cup, scoring two goals in four games as he watched his team lose in a penalty-kick shootout against Mali. The Five Stripes star was subbed out in the 117th minute of the match.

After struggling in his first season with Atlanta, Barco has already matched his 2018 total of four goals this season in just eight games. After missing seven games while away on international duty, he should be available for Frank de Boer when ATLUTD face the Charleston Battery in the U.S. Open Cup on Tuesday.

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