Scouting Atlanta United’s Ezequiel Barco

Jan 29, 2018

Ezequiel Barco is expected to finally join Atlanta United this week during its preseason training in Orlando.

To help fans of the Five Stripes understand what the team may be getting from Barco, TrScouts put together a report on the young Argentinian. You can follow them on twitter @trscoutsco.

The report was put together after watching all of Barco’s league and tournament games last season. The authors include: Emrah Derel (Head of South America Department), Kerem Cambaz (Scout at MLS Department) and Ali Can Kutlu ( Senior Scout at Holland Department) from TrScouts company. 

They have agreed to also provide reports on Franco Escobar and Jose Hernandez.

Born 23.03.1999 in Villa Gobernador Gálvez in Argentina, Ezequiel Barco moved to the city of Avellaneda in order to get into the youth academy of Independiente when he was 15. This was a significant and essential step in his career, because he was able to present his talents immediately. 

By 17, he was already a part of the first team of Independiente with club legend Gabriel Milito in charge. In his first season, he mostly played attacking midfielder, however with Ariel Holan taking over the job of head coach Barco evolved into a left winger. Even though Barco claimed in his early interviews that he first thought that the position of winger would not be suitable for him, his performance on left wing helped him realize that the decision was the best. Most credit for this change should go to his coach Ariel Holan, who used to be a hockey trainer before changing sports. 

At 18, Barco was named the team’s main penalty taker. However, at the end of 2016-17 season he missed an important penalty kick against Lanus and Independiente missed a chance to participate in next season’s Cup of Libertadores (Champions League of South America). 

Holan did not change his mind and he let Barco take the penalties and this paid off: In the final of Sudamericana (Europa League of South America), he scored the penalty that led Independiente to win the cup. By winning this cup, his team got the ticket to participate at next year’s Libertadores. The fact that at this age he was able to keep his calm in very important moments is an essential part of his game.

His main strength however is his dribbling ability. He is able to dribble past his opponents very easily and efficiently. Because of his acceleration he can reach his maximum speed very quickly. Combining these skills with his high in-game IQ and off-ball movement efficiency makes him a very special talent. 

It is also important to mention that he can use his weak foot very well. He is good at taking corner kicks, but the same can’t be stated about taking free-kicks. To become one of the best players in the world, he needs to improve his shot techniques as well as get stronger. Even though his skill level allows him to be so successful, his height of 5’5” and slim posture are disadvantages for challenges. He is also not very into chasing opponent’s fullbacks, so team defense can struggle because of his lack of providing extra help. 

Because of his nationality and similar appearance, he is called the “next Messi.” However, his finishing and his soccer IQ is way behind in comparison to Lionel Messi. But if it is necessary to label someone as the “next Messi,” it should be Ezequiel Barco. Maybe he will never be as good as Messi, but his appearance, soccer IQ, playing style and effort to win games he is very similar to France’s Mathieu Valbuena. It wouldn’t be wrong to claim that Barco’s potential can reach Valbuena or maybe even surpass him. But to become that good he needs to play in Europe for the sake of his development as a soccer player. 

Strengths: Dribbling, Skill set, Corner-/Free-kicks, Soccer IQ, Off-ball game, being coldblooded, work rate, acceleration and sprint speed

Weaknesses: Finishing, Shot Power, Strength/Balance, Defensive Awareness