Three top English sides – Manchester City, Chelsea and Everton are currently going full-circle for the signature of 16-year-old Atlanta forward, Geroge Bello. That the youngster has garnered just 13 minutes in his club’s first team says a lot.
Atlanta have been the pacesetters in the Major League Soccer this term. Until last Sunday’s shocking collapse at DC United, they had swept other sides aside in the Eastern Conference. They were top for goals scored and had conceded the least.
A bulk of its offensive workload was thrust on Venezuelan, Josef Martinez. The ex-Torino poacher gracefully took up the challenge with aplomb. Martinez eclipsed the MLS record for most goals in a single season with his 28th in Five Stripes’ winner over Orlando City last week.
Roy Lassiter set the old mark in 1996, MLS’ debut campaign, 22 years ago. San Jose Earthquakes’ Chris Wondolowski matched it in 2012 as did Bradley Wright-Phillips of the New York Red Bulls two years later. He could perhaps reach the 40-goal threshold should he maintain this form.
Martinez’s terrifyingly good streak has made him somewhat of a local superstar in Georgia. His fan-base is stretching across Europe. A handful of scouts are sniffing around the club’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium, but surprisingly the majority didn’t come for Martinez, it’s Bello whom they were hoping to catch a glimpse of.
The United States U17 starlet is highly regarded by his club. Considered the complete package, Bello who plays primarily as a left-back offers equal quality in attack and defence. His lightning pace, incredible runs and technical abilities make him a handful for teams to deal with yet he wasn’t afforded the platform to flaunt it.
Finally, he got it against DC. Many of his admirers may have missed the rendition. Bello, himself was unaware until an assistant coach told him minutes before his No. 21 flashed on the board held by the fourth official. He was asked to attack and put in as many crosses as he could to Martinez.
“I think he did a good job,” Atlanta United manager Gerardo Martino said. “He took initiative when he went in, which is what he asked him to do.”
He began training with Atlanta United’s first team weeks ago after injuries to Greg Garza (shoulder), Sal Zizzo (knee) and Mikey Ambrose (knee) depleted the depth at fullback.
Bello wasn’t impressed with his debut but the foreign visitors were. According to Calciomercato, Everton is leading the chase for the Nigerian-born defender. Although the Toffees have already signed Lucas Digne, they are hoping to find a long-term successor for Leighton Baines.
Marco Silva’s team isn’t the only ones interested, Chelsea and City make up the English suitors, AS Roma, Schalke and Genoa are also thought to have made moves for the 16-year-old.