Argentine defender Franco Escobar became Atlanta United’s newest player for the 2018 season this week, adding a another face to the Five Stripes back line. But any transfer starts well before the player signs a contract. Technical Director Carlos Bocanegra sat down with ATLUTD.com to explain what the front office saw in their newest recruit, and how he will contribute to the squad next season.
Q: How did Franco first get on the radar of the Atlanta United front office?
We went to look at some other players ages ago, probably a year before we started playing matches. We took a three-hour drive to a little town called Junín where Newell’s Old Boys’ reserves team was playing Junín. We were watching some other players, and this kid stood out. We’ve just been tracking him since, and we were presented with this opportunity to go for him.
Q: Head Coach Tata Martino used to coach Franco’s previous club, Newell’s Old Boys. How did his knowledge of the team play into the signing?
As we were tracking him, we were able to pull references from Tata. He was aware of the player, knew him and liked him. Obviously it’s an advantage to know the player and person a little more in-depth when you have the local knowledge.
Q: What qualities will Franco bring to the squad?
What stood out to me was his toughness and his versatility. He’s capable of playing anywhere on the back line. As a former defender myself, what I liked is he had the true defender instincts. He was hard in the tackle, he’s not afraid to put his head in there. He competes and challenges, but then he also has good technique with his feet. So those were the qualities that stood out to me, just his defensive instincts.
Q: What do you see as Franco’s role in the first team in 2018?
He’ll fight for a spot in the starting eleven. He and all the players on the first team will be competing for positions starting in preseason. He’s going to come in along the back line and compete for playing time.