Who is Julian Alvarez, and why he could steal Erling Haaland’s thunder at Manchester City

Ask Man City fans what they’re looking forward to next season, and most will say Erling Haaland. But could the Norwegian superstar be upstaged by the new jewel of Argentine football?

Erling Haaland won't be the only new face at the Etihad next season - the Citizens will also welcome Julian Alvarez to the fold following his £15million move from River Plate

While all the hype is understandably around the former Borussia Dortmund forward, there is a real possibility that his new 22-year-old teammate could steal a lot of the limelight.

Alvarez already made global headlines this week after scoring SIX goals during River Plate's 8-1 thrashing of Alianza Lima in a Copa Libertadores group stage fixture.

While you could certainly question the level of opposition, scoring six goals in the South America's equivalent of the Champions League is no mean feat.

Manchester City signed the player on the final day of the January transfer window for less than a quarter of the Haaland transfer fee. The club immediately loaned out the Argentine back to River Plate, who are desperate to extend that loan until the end of the year.

After Alvarez's heroics, River Plate manager Marcelo Gallardo said: "If [City] want to loan us the player until the end of the year, we have no problem and we will be very grateful. We tell them that we are going to prepare a footballer who is already clearly mature to make the jump, but we could give him even more flight.

"But Guardiola won't listen to my request. We would be very grateful if you can leave us Julián until the end of the year!"

It's easy to see why the defending Argentine champions are so keen to keep the 22-year-old. The player has already scored 15 goals in 19 appearances this season, and has produced four assists on top.

His numbers last season were similarly impressive, with the Argentina international bagging 24 goals in 46 games.

But who is Alvarez, where has he come from, and what is his story?

Who is Julian Alvarez?

Julian Alvarez of River Plate celebrates his goal

Hailing from the small town of Calchin in the province of Cordoba, Alvarez was quick to burst onto the football scene, passing trials at River Plate and Boca Juniors at the tender age of 11.

Not long after the trials, the player was scouted by Real Madrid, who brought him to Spain where he won the league with his age group and scored several goals along the way. The problem was, Los Blancos couldn't sign the teenager due to a rule prohibiting clubs from taking on foreign players under the age of 13.

Real Madrid's loss turned out to be River Plate's gain, as the Argentine giants secured the player's signature and brought him into their youth team.

After winning multiple championships domestically and internationally, Alvarez was finally given an opportunity to shine in the first team.

The player - aged 18 at the time - made his debut in a 3-1 friendly defeat against Talleres, scoring his team's only goal.

Alvarez went on to have a number of good performances, but they weren't exactly world-beating. With that in mind, many were surprised to see the youngster come off the bench in 2018's infamous Superclasico Copa Libertadores final in Madrid.

In the 2020 campaign, the player featured more prominently in the team, especially following the departure of striker Lucas Pratto.

Alvarez scored nine goals in 25 games that season, including one goal and one assist in a crucial clash against San Pablo - a game which forced many doubters to sit up and take notice.

Interestingly, Alvarez finds himself in a similar position ahead of his move to Manchester City. Many are yet to know who he is, but all it takes is one outstanding performance to raise his Premier League stock.

READ MORE: The good, the bad and the ugly: Jose Mourinho’s memorable managerial moments

Latest news