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Who is Manchester City target Julian Alvarez?

:Headline: Who is Manchester City target Julian Alvarez?:
Sports Mole takes a closer look at River Plate forward Julian Alvarez amid reported interest from Manchester City.
Sports Mole

Manchester City are reportedly closing in on the signing of highly-rated forward Julian Alvarez from River Plate.

The Citizens are prepared to activate the 21-year-old's release clause, worth in the region of £17m, in a bid to fend off interest from the likes of Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Manchester United.

Alvarez, who is out of contract in December, is regarded as one of the brightest prospects in South American football and after excelling in his native Argentina, he is now expected to make the next step in his career, with a potential move to Pep Guardiola's side on the horizon.

Here, Sports Mole takes a closer look at Alvarez and what Man City supporters could expect from the Argentina international should he make the switch to the Etihad Stadium.


Background

Born in the northern town of Calchin in the Argentinian province of Cordoba, Alvarez began his youth career with local club Atletico Calchin; however, he came very close to joining Real Madrid at the age of 11.

Alvarez had trials with both Boca Juniors and Los Blancos, but it was with the latter where he made a huge impression, scoring twice in five games to help them win a youth tournament back in 2011.

Real Madrid were impressed with the forward's performances; however, Alvarez revealed in 2018 that he was unable to sign for the Spanish giants due to his age, while his family were settled in Argentina.

"I was playing children's championships at Real Madrid, I was 11 years old but only at 13 Real Madrid could sign me definitively at the club. To do it at that time, my whole family had to move and we had to settle there. I went back to Cordoba," Alvarez told Argentinian newspaper Clarin.

In 2016, Alvarez eventually joined River Plate, a club renowned for giving young players regular opportunities to develop in the first team, and the forward has evidently taken his chance with both hands.


Form with River Plate

Alvarez made his professional debut for River Plate in October 2018 when he came on as a substitute for the final half an hour in a 1-0 Primera Division win against Aldosivi. Two months later, he was brought on in their 5-3 aggregate win over Boca Juniors in the Copa Libertadores final, lifting silverware as a senior player for the first time.

The forward had to wait until March 2019 before scoring his first professional goal, netting the opener, just seconds after coming on as a substitute, in a 3-0 top-flight victory over Independiente.

Under the tutelage of Marcelo Gallardo, Alvarez has gradually developed into a key player for River Plate, primarily selected as a forward but also operating on the flanks and at times in midfield.

Alvarez impressed in the 2020 campaign with 14 goal contributions, but it was his exceptional form in 2021 which saw him elevate his game to new heights and subsequently alert several elite clubs across Europe to his talent.

The Argentine finished as the Primera Division's top scorer last year, netting 18 times in 21 appearances and helping River Plate claim their 37th top-flight title. Alvarez also scored two goals and provided one assist in their 4-0 victory over Colon to win the Trofeo de Campeones last month.

Alvarez's success was rewarded when he joined an exclusive group, including the likes of Neymar, Diego Maradona and Pele, in winning the South American Football of the Year award.


International experience

With Man City legend Sergio Aguero retiring from football last year and seven-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi edging towards his 35th birthday, Alvarez is now one attack-minded youngster who Argentina will be hoping they can rely on for years to come.

Alvarez was initially a regular at Under-20s level, competing at the 2019 South American Under-20 Championship and the 2019 FIFA Under-20 World Cup, before joining the Under-23s set-up and winning the 2020 CONMEBOL Pre-Olympic Tournament.

The forward was then handed his first senior call up in June 2021 and made his debut as a substitute in a World Cup qualifier against Chile. The River Plate star has made a total of five appearances for La Albiceleste, but he is yet to start for the national team.

Alvarez was part of Argentina's 28-man squad who won the 2021 Copa America title last summer, the nation's first major honour for 28 years.


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