Update February 22
After a long, winding road, Erik Lopez’s move to Banfield is officially confirmed by Atlanta United.
Update February 8:
It appears that Erik Lopez’s move to Banfield is back on, as Cesar Luis Merlo has reported that issues that saw the deal break down last week have been resolved.
Se solucionaron las trabas que habían para que Erik López juegue en Banfield.— César Luis Merlo (@CLMerlo) February 8, 2022
*️⃣En las próximas horas, viajará a Argentina y firmará, tal como estaba acordado, contrato por una temporada. pic.twitter.com/gTLFDBF1w5
Hopefully for all parties involved, the deal is smooth from here on out and reaches completion.
Atlanta United forward Erik Lopez was reportedly close to a loan move to Banfield in Argentina in mid-January, but that move appears to be off the table as an Atlanta United spokesperson told Dirty South Soccer that Lopez will return to Atlanta tomorrow.
“Erik will be reporting back to Atlanta on Wednesday,” said the spokesperson. “Upon his return, we’ll assess and evaluate him to determine his reintegration into the team.”
Lopez has missed most or all of preseason training camp with permission from the team.
It’s unknown why the move broke down as it did. It’s worth noting that Lopez will return to Atlanta Wednesday, at least temporarily, despite the rest of the team having departed for its training camp in Mexico on Tuesday.
The Athletic’s Felipe Cardenas stated his belief that Lopez likely remains out of the picture for Atlanta United’s first team. Last year, Lopez occupied a designation as one of the team’s U-22 players, which receive special roster accommodations.
Will add that I don't believe that Erik López is part of Atlanta United's plans this season. The FO were in Argentina scouting U22 players last month. The transfer window in Argentina closes on Feb. 9, I believe. Still time for ATLUTD to move him.— Felipe Cárdenas (@FelipeCar) February 1, 2022
If Atlanta decides to remove Lopez from the first-team roster, an alternative option could be to keep him close and simply loan him to the club’s USL affiliate, Atlanta United 2. This would allow for the team to keep in personal contact with the player and allow him to accrue competitive minutes while continuing to acclimate to the club (remember, he just turned 20 years old).
But also, the club could very well keep him on the roster AND sign another expensive U-22 player if the team has enough allocation money to work with. There will undoubtedly be more news on this front in the coming days.