There's not many people who know Argentine soccer than GolazoArgentina.com editor Peter Coates, and he shared some of that knowledge with the Extratime crew on Thursday as they picked his brain on new Atlanta United Designated Player Marcelino Moreno.
Atlanta have been wary of likening Moreno to former Five Stripes star Miguel Almiron, who parlayed his phenomenal showing in MLS to a lucrative move to Newcastle United. But to hear Coates tell it, the comparisons might be apt regarding the players' skillsets, aside from the fact that they both hail from the same Argentine club in Lanus.
"I think what they're getting is a very, very good player," Coates said. "He's coming off a fantastic season. Without question one of the best players in the Superliga last season. Lanus finished high up the table and Moreno was central to that.
"I think what Atlanta are getting is a guy who — they've been quick to distance themselves from the comparisons with Almiron — but they're obvious when you think of not just the team, they both come from Lanus, but that kind of very dynamic midfield role with a bit more substance, maybe. Pity Martinez brought flair and came from River [Plate], one of the much bigger teams in Argentina after a really historic season. But I think in Moreno they're getting a bit more of a low-key guy, as Almiron was, and someone who can really come back, help out the team defensively from deep and then break forward with speed in a very similar style to Almiron."
There was plenty more Moreno talk, but Coates also spoke on the continuing trend of talent from Latin America making the move to MLS, and the reasons behind it. Coates said it's something he expects will only continue, pointing out that as MLS scouting in the region continues to grow, teams aren't just looking for DPs, but potential additions all over their rosters.
"I've been saying for a while, we're seeing a lot of players do it, and I think it's only going to increase," Coates said. "MLS is improving all the time, there's more players heading there, they're getting more exposure. There's now players that are making a successful transition from MLS to Europe, which gives it another tick to say it's not going to be a case of if I go there, that's going to be the ceiling. And I think the big one for a lot of these guys, not just in Argentina, but in Latin America, is that financially it's a good option.
"It's difficult to say who's the next guy to go to MLS because the scouting of MLS clubs in Argentina and South America is so broad now, it's not like they're just down here looking for a DP. They're looking for all parts of their roster because they can look at it and say, 'You know what, some of these players will add something to our squad and we can pick them up for relatively small amounts, they're used to playing a very physical, very demanding league and they can come up here and slot in.' It's impossible to say who they're looking at because in truth I think they're looking at almost everyone, anyone."