Julian Alvarez: Everything you need to know about River Plate’s new Manchester City striker | need to know football news

Much of Manchester City’s transfer talk this summer will be about how Erling Haaland has settled in at the Etihad Stadium – but let’s not forget that another young striker is joining the club.

River Plate forward Julian Alvarez is set to finally join Manchester this summer after completing a £14m transfer from the Argentine club day of the 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 Wednesday night’s 8-1 win over Allianz Lima. Imagine if he and Haaland both hit purple spots for City this season…

Julian Alvarez scored a double hat-trick for River Plate on Wednesday
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Julian Alvarez scored a double hat-trick for River Plate on Wednesday

Alvarez is set to join forces with City for pre-season training later in the summer. So what can Pep Guardiola fans expect from their new young forward?

Alvarez will arrive at Man City in incredible form

If Man City fans had any doubts about Alvarez, they were put to bed this week after Alvarez’s stunning six-goal game against Allianz Lima in the Copa Libertadores.

Alvarez scored all three of River Plate’s goals in the opening 45 minutes, adding more goals in minutes 54, 57 and 83 against the Peruvian opponents.

Man Utd transfer rumours: Julian Alvarez to replace Antony Martial?
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Julian Alvarez will arrive at Man City in incredible form

The 22-year-old has scored 14 goals in 17 appearances in the cup competitions so far this season – adding to the 18 goals he scored in Argentina’s top flight in 2021.

The striker is the first player in the club’s 121-year history to score six goals in the same game – and he will also have some Manchester City records in his sights if he can join the team alongside new man Haaland.

Real Madrid and Man United are longtime fans of his

Only in recent months has Alvarez become a target for Manchester City but the striker has long been on the radar of Europe’s elite.

In fact, he spent a month in court at Real Madrid’s youth academy when he was just 11 years old.

A move did not materialize after that process, partly due to age restrictions on foreign signings in Spain, but within a few years he was being picked up by Argentine giants River Plate, the club he supported as a child.

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Ralf Rangnick says the Manchester United board turned down his request to sign a striker in January despite the availability of Luis Diaz, Julian Alvarez and Dusan Vlahovic.

Former Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick was also keen on bringing him to Old Trafford in the January transfer window – but the club’s board turned down a move for a striker in that window.

With Alvarez still in incredible form for River, Premier League club City have already received loan offers for the young striker – but the plan is to keep him at the Etihad Stadium next season.

City’s sporting director Ferran Soriano said this month: “We’ve received many offers from clubs to loan Julian Alvarez – but he won’t go.

“He will do the pre-season with us and I think he will stay. Barcelona were not among the prospects.”

He has already worked with Messi

Alvarez has five caps for the senior Argentina team
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Alvarez has five caps for the senior Argentina team

Impressing at youth level for both River Plate and internationally for Argentina, Alvarez was part of a group of young players who took the country’s senior team to the World Cup in Russia in the summer of 2018 to attend 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 squad by long-time coach Marcelo Gallardo.

Alvarez received the number 9 shirt and made his debut in October 2018. “He’s a player that any coach would love to coach,” Gallardo said at the time, describing the youngster as a “team player” with attitude to do justice to his precocious talent.

Julian Alvarez celebrates with the Copa Libertadores trophy
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Julian Alvarez celebrates with the Copa Libertadores trophy

Alvarez soon began appearing regularly for River and in December, seven years after his trial at Real Madrid, he was given the opportunity to play in the rearranged Copa Libertadores final against Boca Juniors at the Bernabeu.

The striker, still just 18, was thrown into the side in the first half of extra time with the same score, a huge show of faith from Gallardo that paid off as River beat his bitter rivals 3-1 and lifted the trophy.

Alvarez is compared to Aguero

Alvarez has long adored Aguero – “I really like Kun Aguero and I try to copy his moves,” he said in an interview with La Nation in 2019 – and a move to the Etihad Stadium would give him the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of his former international teammate.

It would of course be a huge challenge to emulate his achievements, but the comparisons to the City legend are not entirely far-fetched.

Manchester City's Sergio Aguero celebrates scoring his side's sixth goal during the Premier League match at Villa Park.
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Alvarez has also been compared to Manchester City legend Sergio Aguero

Like Aguero, Alvarez stands at 5ft 8in and is not only fast but deceptively strong, his stocky build and low center of gravity making it difficult for him to push off the ball.

Aguero is sometimes categorized as a goalscorer, but he has scored all sorts of goals for City and a breakdown of Alvarez’s Primera Division goals for River last season shows similar diversity.

Alvarez scored most of his goals from inside the box – a total of four from the six yards underlined his scoring ability – but there were also five from outside the box.

No other player in the division managed more than three, a stat that underscores his threat from both long-distance and close-up.

Alvarez has a hammer off a right foot and generates impressive power with minimal back raises, but he’s by no means one footed. In fact, he’s similarly strong on the left, scoring five of his 18 goals last season with his weaker foot.

There was even a goal with the head. Alvarez may be short in stature but like Aguero he is dangerous in the air and his fighting nature ensures he does not shy away from aerial challenges.

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However, where he clearly differs from his idol is in his positional versatility. Alvarez now plays for River up front, but he’s not a total striker like Agüero. In fact, he is similarly effective on the right flank and spent his younger years as a winger.

While Aguero gave his best in and around the box, Alvarez has a habit of heading into the gaps between the lines where he can win the ball on the turn and use his speed and skill to take down opposing defenders from deeper positions to overtake .

It remains to be seen whether he even comes close to the extraordinary standards of his idol. But Alvarez’s star potential is already clear.

What did the pundits say about Alvarez?

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said in February:

“Manchester City is working to be in the present but also in the future and in the immediate future. He could be with us now but we have so many players in this position so the best thing for him to do is stay at River Plate.

“He has developed incredibly well with Marcelo Gallardo in recent years and next pre-season he will be with us. Then we’ll decide what happens, because every pre-season the rosters change. But we are very happy to have this talented young player for the years to come.”

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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola says he is delighted that the club have managed to sign Julian Alvarez as a player for the future.

South American football expert Tim Vickery on Sky Sports News in January:

“He’s the best thing Argentine football has produced in a long time – he’s a really talented support forward. He was very carefully brought in by River Plate coach Marcelo Gallardo.

“He reminds me of [former Aston Villa striker] Gary Shaw, a great player in the early 1980s until he struggled with a serious injury. He was almost like an English Kenny Dalglish. Alvarez has some of those similar traits, he’s wonderful at taking the ball on the half turn, playing the pass and getting into position.

“You can play his right at the top but when he moves to Europe he will initially find physically that he can adapt. But he has real ability and his movements are quick but his mind is faster. He’s a really special one Player.”

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