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Here’s why Atlanta United’s signing of Walkes is important

Anton Walkes, shown here playing for Tottenham Hotspur.
Anton Walkes, shown here playing for Tottenham Hotspur.

Acquiring Anton Walkes on loan from Tottenham Hotspur is an example of how Atlanta United President Darren Eales wants his club to be seen by others in the global game.

“It says a lot that Spurs trust loaning him to us,” said Eales, who worked at Tottenham before being hired to oversee Atlanta United. “They know they will get the best available for their player. We want to be seen at this kind of club that elite clubs around the world want to deal with.”

Eales knew of Walkes from his time in the academy when he was living and working in England.

After taking the job at Atlanta United, Eales has been travelling back and forth to England during the past two years. He said during a meeting with Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino last September they discussed the possibility of any players that could benefit from a loan, particularly playing for manager Gerardo Martino, who has a relationship with Pochettino and similar style of play.

Eventually, Walkes’ name came up. Atlanta United began to monitor him. They reviewed Walkes’ play against Juventus and Atletico Madrid, where as a centerback he had a good game against Fernando Torres, in the International Champions Cub in Australia last summer. They saw his senior team debut in the EFL Cup in September.

Like many players Atlanta United has acquired, Walkes can play a variety of positions. He’s primarly a centerhalf, but can play defensive midfielder.

“Depth is hardest thing to build on an expansion team,” Eales said. “That’s why we’ve worked so hard, from starting with Charleston last year to (developing an) international loan system.

“We are trying to use everything we can to give ‘Tata’ the best squad he can have.”

Other players Atlanta United have acquired on loan include fullback Greg Garza (Tijuana) and Yamil Asad (Sarsfield).