Who is Julián Álvarez, the nugget of River announced at Manchester City?
Born on January 31, 2000 in Calchin, a village of 3,200 inhabitants located about a hundred kilometers from the capital Córdoba, Julián Álvarez has come a long way to, today, ignite this winter transfer window. And for good reason, the one who is nicknamed « the Spider », in reference to a ball that sticks to his foot, is very close to engaging with Manchester City, current Premier League leader who would therefore be on the verge of snatch this raw talent with an offer of around 20 million euros – the amount of the release clause – accompanied by a loan until June 2022 (it will even possibly be extended until December). Champion of the Liga Profesional (D1 Argentina) last December, the Albiceleste striker (5 selections), represented by Fernando Hidalgo, has indeed largely contributed to the final coronation of River Plate. Top scorer in the Argentine championship with 18 goals in 25 matches, the number 9 of the Millonario has also distinguished himself by offering his teammates a whopping nine assists.
Symbol of his emergence, the center-forward of River is the Latin American player under 23 who has the most assists (18), the most key passes (ahead of Phil Foden, Charles De Ketelaere or even Jadon Sancho) and the most big chances created in all of 2021. Author of 26 goals, including a double against Boca in the Superclásico and the first hat-trick of his career against San Lorenzo, over the past calendar year, the crack of River is thus preparing to join one of the most bankable championships in the world of football. A look back at the story of the man who is today considered the best footballer in South America. After a childhood spent in the streets of Calchin and before shining under the colors of River Plate, Julián Álvarez has, in fact, multiplied the tests.
A try at Real Madrid!
At the age of 11, the one who will celebrate his 22nd birthday at the end of the month then took his first steps in football with the local Club Atlético. From its beginnings, La Araña did not leave you indifferent. Contacted by Piero Foglia, talent scout and sports director of Atalaya, another club from Córdoba, the young Argentinian then flew to Europe and Madrid to carry out tests with the Merengues. “Due to a relationship I had with a sporting director at Real Madrid, I dared to take him there. And he really did. I think that if the same rules that allowed Messi to sign for Barcelona had been in force, Julián would have signed for Real Madrid., Foglia recently declared during an interview with How suits you (AM 550).
“This Real Madrid story is a bit crazy. I was still playing in Calchín. I remember that I arrived and that same day they gave me number 10 and played me in a friendly match: we won and I scored several goals. Then I participated in a tournament and we were champions”, told, as such, the main interested party in an interview granted to Ole. Despite brilliant performances and quickly considered a phenomenon, Julián Álvarez is, in fact, faced with the policy of Real which only signed players aged 13 years. In Argentina, his parents being unable to move to Madrid to wait for the legal age allowing their son to be registered in the Madrid training, Álvarez is then forced to return to Calchín, not without forgetting to take advantage of the opportunity to see his idol Lionel Messi win, at the Bernabéu, against Real (2-0) on April 27, 2011.
Back in the country, the Argentinian nugget finds his club Atlético but continues despite everything to carry out tests, in particular with Boca Juniors before carrying out a decisive one with River Plate, at the end of 2015. Supporter of Millonario, the crack decides then to stay and experience a meteoric rise. Above the lot, he quickly joined the River reserve, then led by Luigi Villalba. In the aftermath, Marcelo Gallardo, coach of the first team, does not hesitate to give him a chance and the kid pays him back. Shortly before his 18th birthday, Álvarez signed his first professional contract and made his official debut against Aldosivi on October 27 of the same year. Summoned to play the first Copa Libertadores of his very young career, the Spider is even decisive in helping his teammates to lift the trophy at the expense of Boca’s great rival. Dream beginnings, a return to the native village dressed in hero costume and Julián Álvarez continues on his way.
A breathtaking 2021!
Increasingly essential to the game system of Gallardo, the nugget of River is gradually gaining in power. 3 goals and 3 assists in 15 matches in all competitions during the year 2019 where he was also called up with the national under-20 team with whom he finished second in the Sudamericano, and participated in the U20 World Cup where the Albiceleste is eliminated in the round of 16. 9 goals and 6 assists in 32 matches the following season and an importance which continues to increase in selection. Crowned with a title during the pre-Olympic tournament played in Colombia (where he scored 3 goals), Álvarez then caught the eye of a certain Lionel Scaloni who decided to give him a chance with team A to play 3 matches ( Paraguay, Brazil, Uruguay) counting for the qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup. And this after winning, alongside Pulga, the Copa América 2021 where he made a single appearance in the last group match against Bolivia.
Sparkling in 2021, he notably became River’s most prolific forward in a calendar year under Marcelo Gallardo. Ahead of names such as Lucas Alario, Ignacio Scocco or even Rafael Santos Borré, today on the side of Eintracht Frankfurt, Julián Álvarez was also named the best player in America in 2021, just ahead of a certain Gabigol, announced in the viewfinder of Newcastle. Two men who could therefore soon find themselves on the grounds of the Premier League. Under contract until next December, Álvarez assured, in any case, recently that « if there was an offer and a good opportunity to make the jump, we will look, then make the decision ». A message a priori well received by Manchester City, strongly expected to win the bet. One thing is certain, the Spider is promised a bright future and could therefore, soon, ignite the spans of the Etihad Stadium with its genius.
AT LO RIVER. AT LO CAMPEÓN 🏆#ElijoSeguirGanando ⚪️❤️⚪️ pic.twitter.com/WHQWdBOQfg
—River Plate (@RiverPlate) December 19, 2021