Manchester City are set to reap the rewards after facing competition from Europe’s biggest clubs to sign River Plate wonderkid Julian Alvarez.
Manchester United, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Inter Milan and Bayern Munich are all keen on the award-winning 22-year-old Argentine, who has been in stunning form in his homeland.
City signed the player on a five-and-a-half-year deal in January, with the player spending the rest of the season at River Plate on loan.
And the club are relishing their arrival this summer after breaking a 121-year record at River Plate with a staggering six-goal run in a Copa Libertadores game on Wednesday night.
So what do we know about Julian Alvarez? talkSPORT.com takes a deeper look…
JUlian Alvarez: Profile
The Argentine was almost destined for a direct path to Madrid after being tried in the Spanish capital when he was just 11 years old.
Alvarez scored two goals in five appearances to help the La Liga Real giants win a youth tournament in 2011.
However, he was too young to make the change permanent as Madrid’s policy is to wait at least 13 years before signing foreign talents.
Alvarez’s father Gustavo told Goal: “It would be a dream if he could stay. We are a working family.
“I work in a grain company and my wife Mariana is a kindergarten teacher.”
He also had trials with Boca Juniors before joining club rivals River Plate from local side Atletico Calchin in 2016.
Since joining River’s first team, Alvarez has won the Copa Libertadores, Copa Argentina and Primera Division, among other trophies.
The striker was part of the Argentina squad alongside six-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi for their Copa America-winning campaign last summer.
Alvarez was the Primera Division’s top scorer in 2021 with 20 goals in 35 games, while also being named South American Footballer of the Year.
JUlian Alvarez: Position
The youngster mainly operates as a striker where he managed 24 goals and 18 assists in 46 appearances in 2021.
Alvarez has become a regular starter in 2020 with manager Marcelo Gallardo using him as both a centre-forward and second striker.
Yet he broke into the first team on the right due to a succession of attacking options at the time, including Eintracht Frankfurt star Rafael Santos Borre.
Alvarez was deployed in a similar position for Argentina, appearing as a second-half substitute in the 4-1 win over Bolivia at the Copa America.
JUlian Alvarez: What was said?
River manager Gallardo: “He is a player that coaches love for his quality, for his generosity and for his playfulness.
“Any coach would love to have him. He is very young and has a long way to go.
After Alvarez left with two match points against Alianza Lima, Gallardo revealed he was desperate for City to postpone the youngster’s arrival at the Etihad.
He said: “It’s difficult to keep Alvarez because City have made a great investment for a diamond.
“Argentina is a country that exports football players, but replacing Julian is not going to be easy. It is very possible that he plays in the next round of the Libertadores and then goes to Manchester City.
“But if they want to give us the player until the end of the year, then we won’t have any problem! We would be very grateful.
“Unfortunately I don’t think Pep is listening to me. I can tell you that we have prepared a footballer who is already mature enough to take the plunge and really take off.”
A move to City always seemed written in the stars, with Alvarez once admitting he played with Pep Guardiola’s FIFA side.
“Playing in Europe is most people’s dream because of the quality of these leagues and what it means to be in these clubs,” he told Radio La Red in October 2020.
“But I’m taking it slowly. Obviously, I talk to my agent and my family, but I know I have to stay focused on what I’m doing.
“Later the time will come, thanks to the work I do.”
Alvarez added: “On Playstation I play with Barcelona or Manchester City.”
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