One of the biggest football stories of the last week has been the pursuit of Argentine sensation Julian Alvarez by several top European sides. But it now seems a matter when, not if, the 21-year-old Argentina whizzkid will join Manchester City.
The club is expected to finalise a deal for the South American Footballer of the Year for an initial £17.9 million in the coming days. This promises to be a great signing for the future.
However, questions remain whether he is what the club needs and how the move will work out. Will he be the one to replace his countryman Sergio Aguero in the City attack?
After the much publicised failure to sign Harry Kane last summer and Pep Guardiola’s declaration that the club will not sign a striker in January, the expectation was for the Blues to make a statement signing next summer.
Will Alvarez cause the hierarchy at the Etihad Stadium to have a change of heart? Has the Argentine become a viable alternative to the likes of Kane and Erling Haaland?
No one has all the answers right now. But these are five reasons why he would be a great addition to the City squad.
1. Lethal Finisher
He has 18 goals and six assists in 17 starts this season for River Plate in the Argentinian top flight. He has found the back of the net 20 times in 24 total appearances for the side this term.
That reads just like an Erling Haaland fact sheet. The Borussia Dortmund star has become synonymous with goals.
His appearance numbers seem to compete with the number of goals scored. He is that prolific. Alvarez has also been writing his own name in the history books in his native land.
He is no one-season wonder either as he netted 22 times in 45 games last season to fuel River Plate’s drive to the Argentinian title.
2. South American Footballer of the Year 2021
When you win the player of the year in a continent that boasts some of the best talents in world football, you’re something special. Moreso when you are still an upcoming player yet to establish yourself even as an international.
But the award speaks to the bundle of talent in the young forward taking South American football by storm. It's a well-deserved one and a sign of a great future ahead in the game.
That makes for a good reason to come to Manchester City.
3. Already a Serial Winner at Just 21
Winning the ultimate individual accolade in South American football is only one of the many already won by Alvarez.
Other accolades include:
Copa Libertadores winner 2018
Copa Argentina winner 2018–19
Recopa Sudamericana winner 2019
Supercopa Argentina winner 2019
Pre-Olympic Tournament winner 2020
Copa América winner 2021 (Argentina U23)
Trofeo de Campeones winner 2021 (Argentina)
Primera División winner 2021
Emerging Argentine Primera División top scorer: 2021 (18 goals)
South American Team of the Year: 2021
For a club that has become accustomed to winning, it’s a plus for any player coming to City to have also acquired the winning mindset. Alvarez comes well-prepared.
4. Can Wait
Although Alvarez is expected to sign a five-year deal with City, he could either join up with City in July if River Plate are eliminated from the Copa Libertadores early or stay back longer.
But if the club progresses in the competition, he will remain with the Argentinian champions until November, and would then be expected to link up with City at the end of the year.
He could even be sent out on loan to get used to European football.
With the likes of Riyad Mahrez, Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus all out of contract in the summer of 2023, space can easily be made for him in the Blues attack by then. And that will not affect any new striker being brought in.
Alvarez can play all across the front line as well as in midfield. That’s a vital quality to have as a City player. It’s been one of the distinguishing factors of Guardiola’s team and has largely contributed to the team’s success in the last several years.
But it’s becoming more of a City way than anything else. Not only are top-class players required, but they should also be able to perform in multiple positions. That is what has turned the Blues into a fearsome, well-oiled winning machine.
Although Alvarez’s goals for River Plate have come mostly from the centre-forward position, he has also scored while playing from the wings and in midfield.
In all, Alvarez will be a great addition to the squad as City prepare for the next phase of the club’s growth and success.
So bring him on!