Rumors linking Atlanta United with 18-year old Olimpia attacker Erik Lopez picked up steam Thursday night when Paraguayan radio host Arturo Máximo Rubin tweeted that Lopez was indeed on his way to Atlanta.
Erik Lopez al Atlanta del futbol norteamericano.
— Arturo Máximo Rubin (@ArturoMRubin) June 26, 2020
This follows some more tentative reporting from ABC Cardinal in Paraguay that Atlanta was seeking Lopez’s services.
Lopez broke in with Olimpia’s senior team last year, making 15 starts in the 22-game Clausura that his team won by six points. He scored four goals in just over 1000 minnutes. Lopez then went on to feature twice for Paraguay’s U-23 team in CONMEBOL Olympic Qualifying in January, the last meaningful minutes he played in 2020.
Lopez can play as a central striker or on the wing cutting inside. For Atlanta, he certainly seems like a player who could better replicate some of Josef Martinez’s aggressive central runs. The 18-year old appears to possess a good bit of strength on top if his ability to break away from defenders with pace.
It’s a potential signing that would make some sense for similar reasons the rumored signing of Jurgen Damm would for Atlanta. The team’s loanee from Estudiantes, Manuel Castro, was only on a six-month deal (with a chance to extend), and considering he hasn’t yet been able to feature in a league game for Frank de Boer, it’s difficult to know exactly how much the staff rates him. It’s even possible that the team had been lining up Damm as a summer signing before Martinez went down with an injury. After that injury, priorities shifted, and Lopez certainly seems like a player that would offer more utility in Atlanta’s current squad than another pacey winger.