Julian Alvarez found his way to the Argentine at the start of the eleventh season. The 22-year-old striker is one of the “youngsters” of choice. What makes it so special? An inspiring story about humility, gratitude, and perseverance.
La Araneta: The Little Spider
From an early age, it was clear that Julian Alvarez was born for football. When he was only two years old, he went with his brothers to a football school in Kalchin.
Soon one of his brothers gave him the nickname “La Araneta”, which means “little spider”. He was so good with the ball that it looked as if he had more than two legs.
Rafael Varas, who was a coach in Kalchin, noticed this very quickly. The youth coach was happy to take the young boy under his wing.
Alvarez never forgot it and later thanked his life guide with an autographed jersey and a new bus. This act symbolizes his personality on and off the field.
“I didn’t expect it, but at the same time I wouldn’t have fallen from the sky if you knew what it is like as a person,” an agitated Varas said in his testimony.
Messi fan who almost played for Real Madrid
When Alvarez was just 11 years old, he was sent to Real Madrid for a month on the advice of Argentine youth scout Piero Foglia.
Amazing, because Alvarez himself is already a Barcelona fan and his idol is logically Lionel Messi. However, he accepted the proposal and played a tournament with the youth of Los Blancos in Girona.
The Spanish great power immediately saw Alvarez’s undeniable talent and wanted to bring him to the capital. But the new FIFA rules put an end to this, because under the age of 15 you were not allowed to move from a club without parents.
Alvarez has tremendous running ability and is always the first to apply pressure. This is important when you play with Messi.
This was not an option for the Alvarez family, so Julián stayed in the hardworking farming village of Calchin until he was fifteen. “The best thing about Alvarez is his mentality,” says Foglia. According to many, he owes that village.
And it is this humble and hard-working attitude that he carries with him wherever he goes that has been applauded. And Hernan Losada, the former Argentine coach of Beerschot, also sees this.
“Alvarez is really an all-round striker, he runs all over the place. He has a tremendous running ability and is always the first to apply pressure. This is important when you play with Messi, especially when you lose the ball.”
11-year-old Alvarez who was testing for Real Madrid.
From the best team in Argentina to the best team in England
It wasn’t until the age of 15 when Alvarez went to River Plate that his coach, Marcelo Gallardo, took an interest in the Argentine super talent. “Alvarez is a player that every coach would like to coach. He’s a real team player and he has the right attitude too.”
Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola could use such a boy, so he quickly signed Alvarez in the 2022 winter transfer window. River Plate raised €20m for the versatile striker.
“The most important thing for him is to finish it,” says Losada. “He can finish easily, either left or right.”
The proof: six strikes – the first in the club’s 121-year history – in the Copa Libertadores against Allianz Lima. Alvarez scored left and right, inside and outside the penalty area…
You have to be mentally strong to play as a striker in the same team as Haaland.
Initially the plan was for him to mature at River Plate for at least another year as a loan player, but he did very well and Pep brought him to Manchester soon enough. His adjustment period wasn’t too bad.
So Alvarez was already allowed to feature in City’s preparations last summer, and now he’s terrorizing defenses in the Premier League with Erling Haaland.
“Everyone says he’s very mature for his age,” Losada says. “And that would also be true, he has to be very mentally strong to play as a striker in the same team as Haaland.”
“By the way, he came from River Plate straight into the Premier League, you shouldn’t underestimate that. For me, that says enough about his mentality and how mature he is.”
Lautaro Martinez of the team played in Argentina
Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni brought Alvarez to Qatar, but at first gave him only a supporting role. With 12 caps behind his name, that also seemed logical.
After all, Lautaro Martinez was the striker on duty and Scaloni declared before the tournament how important he was to Argentina. But confidence is everything and that was missing from Lukaku’s striker brother at Inter.
So Alvarez got his chance in the third match and grabbed it with both hands: he scored an amazing goal against the Poles. “And now he also has the confidence of the coach, which is very important in the tournament,” says Losada.
Alvarez also played an important role in the 1/8 final against Australia. Again he was on base and hit again. This is how the 22-year-old ‘Araña’ has grown into a World Cup revelation and will undoubtedly be able to prove his worth once again against the Netherlands.
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