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Barco 'wants to continue' in Atlanta as European links swirl

9:32 AM IST 26/06/19
Ezequiel Barco Atlanta United Concacaf Champions League 2019
The Argentina U-20 star has been linked with a move to Europe in the near future but says he wants to stay put in MLS

Ezequiel Barco ​has tried to put to rest rumors that he will be leaving Major League Soccer for Europe in the near future. 

The midfielder was a star for Argentina at the Under-20 World Cup and has been linked with the likes of Serie A side Napoli as his star continues to rise. 

A record signing in January of 2018, Barco failed to live up to the hype in his first season in the league, but is looking to continue his development with the MLS side moving forward. 

“I want to continue here in Atlanta,” he told  FutbolMLS.com

"I'm calm about it [the speculation]," Barco said. "I think this [Atlanta] is a great team where I can continue to grow as a player and then at the end of the year we'll see what happens. But today my focus is here and I'm not taking it away from Atlanta."

Atlanta has already sent one star to Europe in the form of Miguel Almiron​ being sold to Newcastle. 

That move has opened the door for Barco to step in as a key member of the Five Stripes, who has been named as an MLS All-Star this season.  

Barco, along with fellow Argentine Pity Martinez, have helped Atlanta cover for the loss of their star man, and the club sits fourth in the Eastern Conference, just five points back of the Philadelphia Union with two games in hand. 

Rather than being upset at not playing much in 2018, Barco says he was fine with sitting behind and learning from Almiron. 

“Last year of course I didn't play much," Barco said. "That's because Miguel Almiron is a very important player who made a big difference in this league. In every game he was a difference-maker and he stood out a lot."

Barco has also tipped Martinez for improved performances, saying he too will need time to adjust to the style of play in MLS.  

“Pity has shown that he can play in this league and in any other league," Barco said of his new teammate. "We think he's a very important player for our team. The truth is that it takes time to adapt, but we're doing everything we can so that he feels comfortable on the field and really show what he did at River."