Manchester City could make a surprise signing in January by adding River Plate striker Julián Álvarez to their ranks, with a view to his arrival in the summer.
Álvarez was the South American Player of the Year last year, and he is currently with the Argentina squad ahead of their games this weekend, offering fans around town a look at their new potential man.
With an immediate loan back to River Plate, that could be the only chance for the UK public to see their new signing in the opening months of his City career, and when he arrives at the Etihad, there could be another attacking addition. .
City want a big-name striker in the summer, and buying Álvarez won’t change that. The Argentine will have to compete with the likes of Gabriel Jesus, Raheem Sterling, Riyad Mahrez, Jack Grealish and Phil Foden for one of the top three spots, which may drop to two spots if someone like Erling Haaland arrives.
Álvarez operates either up front or on the right for River Plate, but has also had brief experience on the left flank, so we take a look at City’s current and potential options to imagine where he could fit into Pep Guardiola’s side. next season.
On the right
Most of Álvarez’s goals and assists in his 101 appearances for club and country have come as a centre-back, but if Haaland arrives he would certainly use him on the wing. Álvarez is familiar with this position, scoring nine goals and assisting seven from that flank when not leading River Plate’s line.
That would see him competing primarily with Gabriel Jesus and Riyad Mahrez, while Raheem Sterling has operated there this season as well. With Haaland, or another high-profile forward, playing at center, putting the two new signings in a starting lineup would leave Jesus, Mahrez, Sterling, Jack Grealish and Phil Foden vying for a spot on the left.
However, it would offer a new dynamic to City’s attack and allow some of the current players a chance to get minutes in a more central role.
In 96 games for River Plate, half of that has been in the center for Álvarez, and that’s where he’s been most prolific in front of goal. With 25 goals and 13 assists, Álvarez averages a direct goal involvement every 79 minutes from the centre-forward position, so he could be a good backup option for a new striker if he develops well during his time at City.
Let’s say Haaland is that big forward, or someone like Harry Kane, Alvarez is unlikely to start big games before them, but his record suggests he’ll be a good fit to replace him in smaller games or in case of injury.
Similar to how Gabriel Jesus and Ferran Torres developed at City, Alvarez could use a backup role to his advantage and try to replicate his prolific form in Argentina when he arrives in Manchester.
On the left
Álvarez has only played one game for River Plate on the left flank, so he may not be an option for City, who already have Foden, Grealish and Sterling vying for a starting spot.
However, in that match, Álvarez assisted three goals in a 5-0 win over Club Atlético Central Córdoba, so he clearly has a knack for reaching his forehand from the opposite side.
Álvarez also has a promising record of four appearances in attacking midfield, just behind the striker, with two goals and two assists. With the ability to play in the forward three and even in a support role, Álvarez could add options to City’s attack at multiple positions that would give him plenty of opportunities to develop playing time in England.
Now you have a chance: pick your City XI with Alvarez and Haaland selected:
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.