Julian Alvarez: Everything you need to know about Manchester City’s incoming striker from River Plate | Soccer News
Much of the Manchester City transfer talk this summer will be about how Erling Haaland settles into the Etihad Stadium – but let’s not forget that another young striker is coming into the club.
River Plate striker Julian Alvarez is set to finally move to Manchester this summer after completing a £14m move from the Argentinian club on Transfer deadline last January.
The 22-year-old is highly rated and caught the eye this week when he scored six goals for River in their 8-1 win over Allianz Lima on Wednesday night. Just imagine if he and Haaland both hit purple patches for City this season…
Alvarez is set to join City later this summer for pre-season training, so what can fans of Pep Guardiola’s side expect from their new young striker?
Alvarez will arrive at Man City in incredible form
If there was any doubt Man City fans had about Alvarez, it was put to bed this week after Alvarez’s stunning six-goal outing against Allianz Lima in the Copa Libertadores.
Alvarez scored all three goals for River Plate in the first 45 minutes and added more goals at 54, 57 and 83 minutes against their Peruvian opponents.
The 22-year-old has netted 14 goals in 17 appearances this season in cup competitions so far – to add to the 18 goals he has scored in Argentina’s 2021 top flight.
The striker is the first player in the club’s 121-year history to score six goals in the same game – and he’ll also be eyeing some Manchester City records if he can break into the squad alongside new man Haaland.
Real Madrid and Man United are longtime fans of him
It’s only in recent months that Alvarez has become a target for Manchester City, but the striker has long been on the radar of Europe’s top flight.
In fact, he spent a month on trial at Real Madrid’s youth academy when he was just 11 years old.
A decision did not materialize following that lawsuit, partly due to age restrictions on foreign signings in Spain, but within a few years he was snapped up by Argentinian giants River Plate, the club that he supported in his childhood.
Former Manchester United caretaker manager Ralf Rangnick was also interested in bringing him to Old Trafford in the January transfer window – but the club’s board have rejected a move for a striker in that window .
With Alvarez still in incredible form for River, Premier League side City have already received loan offers for the young forward – but the plan is to keep him at the Etihad Stadium next season.
City’s sporting director Ferran Soriano said this month: “We’ve had many offers from clubs to loan out Julian Alvarez – but he’s not leaving.
“He will do pre-season with us and I think he will stay. Barcelona weren’t among those who were interested.”
He has worked with Messi before
Alvarez impressed at youth level, both for River Plate and internationally for Argentina, and in the summer of 2018 he was part of a group of young players who traveled with the country’s senior team to the World Cup in Russia to participate in training sessions.
The experience of rubbing shoulders with Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and the others served Alvarez well, and when he returned to River Plate he was promoted to the first team by longtime manager Marcelo Gallardo.
Alvarez was given the No.9 shirt and made his debut in October 2018. “He’s a player any manager would love to coach,” Gallardo said at the time, describing the youngster as a “team player” with an attitude. at the height of his precocious talent.
Alvarez soon began playing regularly for River and in December, seven years after his trial with Real Madrid, he was given the opportunity to step out at the Bernabeu in the rearranged Copa Libertadores final against Boca Juniors.
The striker, still just 18, was pitched level with the scores in the first half of extra time, a huge show of faith from Gallardo which paid off as River beat their bitter rivals 3-1 and won the trophy.
Alvarez is compared to Aguero
Alvarez has long idolized Aguero – “I really like Kun Aguero and try to copy his moves,” he said in an interview with the Nation in 2019 – and a move to the Etihad Stadium would give him the opportunity to follow in his former international team-mate’s footsteps.
It would be a huge ask to emulate his accomplishments, of course, but comparisons to the city’s legend aren’t entirely fanciful.
Like Aguero, Alvarez is 5ft 8in and apart from being quick he is deceptively strong, his stocky build and low center of gravity making him difficult to push the ball.
Aguero is sometimes categorized as a poacher, but he scored all sorts of goals for City and a breakdown of Alvarez’s Primera Division goals for River last season shows a similar variety.
Alvarez converted the majority of his goals from inside the box – a total of four from inside the six-yard box underlining his goal-poaching abilities – but there were also five from outside the surface.
No other player in the division has managed more than three, a stat that underscores his threat from afar and up close.
Alvarez has a right-footed hammer, generating impressive power with minimal back lift, but he’s by no means one-footed. In fact, he’s just as strong on his left, scoring five of his 18 goals last season with his weaker foot.
There was even a goal with his head. Alvarez may be short in stature but, like Aguero, he’s dangerous in the air, his combative nature allowing him not to shy away from aerial challenges.
Where he clearly differs from his idol, however, is in his positional versatility. Alvarez now plays in attack for River, but he’s not a hard-core striker like Aguero. In fact, he’s just as effective on the right and spent his early years operating as a winger.
While Aguero has done his best in and around the penalty area, Alvarez has a habit of dropping into the gaps between the lines, where he is able to gain possession on the turn and use his speed and skill in getting past opposing defenders from deeper positions. .
It remains to be seen if he will even come close to the extraordinary standards set by his idol. But Alvarez’s star potential is already clear.
What have the experts said about Alvarez?
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola speaking in February:
“Manchester City are working to be in the present but also in the future and the immediate future. He could be with us at the moment but we have so many players in this position so the best thing for him is to stay at River Plate.
“He has developed incredibly well in recent years with Marcelo Gallardo and in the next pre-season he will be with us. Then we will decide what happens because every pre-season the teams move. But we We are really delighted to have this talented young player for the next few years.”
South American football expert Tim Vickery to Sky Sports News in January:
“He’s the best thing to come out of Argentine football in a while – he’s a really talented supporting striker. He was brought in very carefully by River Plate coach Marcelo Gallardo.
“He reminds me [former Aston Villa striker] Gary Shaw, a great player in the early 1980s until he struggled with a serious injury. He almost looked like an English Kenny Dalglish. Alvarez has some of those similar attributes, he’s wonderful at taking the ball on the half turn, playing the pass and getting into position.
“You can play his best, but moving to Europe he will physically find a way to adapt at first. But there is real ability there and his movements are quick but his mind is quicker. That’s a really special player.”