Julian Alvarez has transformed Argentina’s attack since earning his place in the team ahead of Lautaro Martinez. The Manchester City youngster (22) started the World Cup as a substitute, but since coming on as a starter, he hasn’t looked back. He scored in the decisive group match against Poland, did the same against Australia in the round of 16 and has turned into a reliable partner for Lionel Messi in attack as the Paris Saint-Germain who try to bring the trophy in the country after a break of 36 years.
A player that many big clubs in Europe wanted. Manchester City won
Julian Alvarez is a player destined to reach the Argentina national team. He fell in love with the ball as a young child and his family fully supported him on his way to one of the best clubs in the world at the moment, Manchester City. “He is a very calm, responsible and focused person. Playing football has always been so natural to him. I remember one goal, when he was about eight or nine years old, when he overtook four or five rivals and scored a rabona. I realized that we have a different type of player, who could be a world star,” his first coach, Rafael Varas, characterized him.
From an early age, at 11 years old, his parents helped him get to Europe, even to Madrid, for a trial. In five games, he scored two goals and helped Real’s youth team in his age group win a tournament. The Spanish outfit was unable to sign him, however, due to age restrictions on foreign signings in Spain, with youngsters unable to move under the age of 13. He remained to develop as a player in Argentina, at Atletico Calchin, and in 2016 he signed with one of the great forces, River Plate.
He made his debut for the senior team in 2018 and slowly and surely turned into a regular player. He has already won trophies such as Copa Libertadores, Copa Argentina and Primera Division. For any South American who says something important on the football field, the step to Europe also came naturally. But not at Real Madrid, but at… Manchester City. Los Blancos were also interested in this transfer, as were other clubs such as Liverpool, Manchester United, Barcelona, Inter and Juventus.
Pep Guardiola’s side has secured his services since last January for €21.4m, but before arriving in the Premier League in the summer, he broke a 121-year-old River Plate record by becoming the first man with six goals in one Copa Libertadores match.
He won the Copa America alongside Messi
Alvarez’s ascension to the Argentine national team is not really a surprise, in fact it was expected. In the summer of 2018, he was part of a group of young Argentine players who were invited to travel with the senior team to the World Cup in Russia to participate in training sessions. The experience of spending time with players of the stature of Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero has served him well. He made his debut for the national team in June 2021. Julian was also part of the victorious Copa America campaign in 2021, when he was also named the South American Footballer of the Year.
Julian started the final tournament in Qatar with 12 matches and 3 goals for Argentina (all scored in 2022). And before to arrive at the World Cup in Qatar, he had already scored 7 goals for Manchester City in 20 appearances in all competitions. And in most games, he came off the bench.
Alvarez is a player who can perform both as a central striker and as a second striker or winger. In fact, coach Marcelo Gallardo, who started him at River Plate, used him in all positions in attack. “He is a player that coaches love for his qualities, his generosity and his play. Any technical staff would like him in the team. He is very young and has a long way to go. But I can tell you that we have trained a footballer who is already mature enough to make the leap and really take flight,” said Gallardo, before Julian arrived under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.
Alvarez, with 3.8 million followers on Instagram, is today considered a wonderkid of Manchester City and has the label of being “the next Lionel Messi”. There have been a number of players unfairly compared to the Paris Saint-Germain superstar over the years but have failed to live up to expectations. But even if Alvarez doesn’t reach the heights of Messi, he has chances to develop into a fabulous footballer. He possesses wonderful ball control and a flair that allows him to be confident in the final third. His developments at the World Cup in Qatar confirm this.