By John E. Rojas – @jrojasa75
Now that Atlanta United closed with success the soap opera of the winter (summer down south in Argentina – and it wasn’t the only drama for Independiente or the Argentinian teams), is time to know a little bit more about the new MLS jewel, Ezequiel Barco!
From the first reports back in early November until now, fans most likely saw every single clip, highlight and cut from Barco’s stile of play. So let’s jump that and focus on who he is as a person, where he comes from and why the kid is a special person and talent.
So here is all we can tell you about the 18 years old attacking midfielder known during the academy days as ‘Cara de Viejo’ (His face looks like a lot more older than he really is).
Ezequiel Barco was born in Villa Gobernador Valdéz (Santa Fé Province). The small town is about 30 minutes from Rosario (Tata’s born city – one of the most soccer prolific cities in Argentina – yes! same as Messi).
Barco’s father (Omar) was his first coach on a local team called Mosconi, where he played along side his brother (Cristian) who is one year younger than Ezequiel. The trio and their team were champions on the local league. After the early shift at work, Ezequiel’s dad used to get home and go out with the kids to train them with the rest of the team. They used to play on a 7 vs 7 league with a 3-3 setting, Ezequiel being one of the forwards on that line of three.
He has said that he used to score a lot of goals and even though his family mention that he was the most talented on those teams, he did not notice it or acted out as a star kid.
Since then, he considered himself as a winger who loves to make diagonals from left to right, but many saw him as a typical number 10 who should play behind two strikers. He plays the right side too on a line of three up front.
At the Barco household (two daughters and two boys) both parents worked. Even until 2017 Ezequiel’s mom (Esther) worked as a cleaning lady (you can imagine that in a small town in Argentina, working as a cleaning person does not provide the income that people with that line of work can have here in the States).
When Ezequiel signed his first contract as profesional, he asked his mom to stop working and move with him to Avellaneda, but she did not want to stop working and depend only of his child.
Ezequiel’s dad worked on a cooking pots’ factory, he accepted his son’s invitation to quit the job and move to Avellaneda to live with Ezequiel, when the teenager signed his first profesional contract.
Before arriving to Independiente’s system, he was let go by Boca Juniors, Gimnasia de la Plata and River Plate. Ezequiel himself admits that he wasn’t in a good level at the moment, he was 15 at the time.
Jorge Griffa, a well known ex player, scout and coach took him under his wing and made him play on his academy until 2015 when he finally made it to Independiente (playing Academy 7th division – the path to professionalism would be 6th – 5th – 4th – Reserva ad then First Team).
Barco played a bit on 7th division and a bit on 6th, before being called up for the First Team (August 2016 under Gabriel Milito’s coaching staff – Milito played for FC Barcelona among other teams and the Argentinian National Team before his coaching career).
After moving to Avellaneda, He lived at the team’s housing (pensión). He used to sneak after his practice and watch the First Team’s training, thinking on what he had to do in order to be as soon as possible with the First Team ( “los grandes”).
Living at that team’s housing was hard at the beginning. Specially because he was away from his parents and had to comply with some tight schedule on a daily basis, comparing with the freedom he had at home only going to school and playing soccer.
At some point he told his parents that he wasn’t ready to live inside the academy and wanted to go back home. But his parents and family used to take turns to call him and motivate him to keep fighting for his dream. He accepted that during that time he used to cry a lot every day.
Things got better when he move out of the team’s housing and start to make his own life, once he signed his first profesional contract. One of his agents taught him how to drive last year.
He didn’t finish school because once he started to play for the first team, the training, games and travel got in the middle. On top of that, he accepted that he did not have a great desire to study, he actually accepted that during the team’s housing days he suffered when he had to go to school.
He was part of the Argentina U20 National Team during the South American qualifier for the last World Cup (South Corea 2017). During the tournament, Ezequiel complained about a case of mistreatment from the National Team coach and after qualify for the World Cup, Independiente decided that the club would not allow Ezequiel to travel with the National Team, resulting on Ezequiel missing the World Cup.
During his days with the Academy. Barco used the number 10, so he did a t the U20 National Team. But once he signed with the first team his number was the 27. Ezequiel has said that he would love to wear that number 10 again at some point and that La Liga and Premier League are his favorites.
He’s 5’4”, his birthday is March 29th, debuted on Argentinian First Division on August 8th 2016 and scored his first goal on September 10th. He played in total 57 games for Independiente (38 League / 3 Cup / 16 Copa Sudamericana) and scored 8 goals (5 league / 3 Copa Sudamericana)