Atlanta United have reportedly loaned midfielder Franco Ibarra to another MLS club. The Athletic’s Tom Bogert reported the shocking news on Thursday morning.
The surprising move comes as a result of a logjam with the U-22 initiative roster slots. With the returns of Erik Lopez and Edwin Mosquera, there were four U-22 players with only three allotted spots. Unfortunately, the only solution the club could find was to send Ibarra, the most productive player of the four this season, out on loan to another MLS club.
Ibarra has appeared 18 times for the club this season, establishing himself as Gonzalo Pineda’s preferred defensive midfielder.
Filling the void left by Ibarra’s departure will be a tough task. The club just announced a near signing in 26-year-old Frenchman, Tristan Muyumba, who plays a similar role. However, as with all new signings, it will take him some time to get match fit and fully acclimated to the team. In the interim, defensive midfield duties will likely go to Santiago Sosa and Ozzie Alonso. Sosa has struggled to break into the team consistently, while Alonso is still making his way back to full match fitness after a year layoff due to a knee injury.
The bigger concern other than how the lineup will look in the short-term is how the U-22 situation came down to this. How did the club get forced into sending out undoubtedly their best U-22 player, while being stuck with two players who are far away from playing impactful minutes?