Julian Alvarez: the River Plate sensation – The Christmas period is over and the New Year is already knocking on the door. For football fans, along with the arrival of the year 2022, the initiation of the January transfer window give added excitement. What makes a transfer window interesting is the rumour – some of which turn into reality, many remain hoaxes.
For the big clubs around the world, especially in Europe, it’s an opportunity to give themselves a second chance in fixing the problems within the squad to make the rest of the season better. That’s why, rather than spending a lot, the clubs tend to spend strategically on very few players of extremely specific positions.
For a club of Manchester United’s stature, singing footballers in the January transfer window has often worked out quite well, with Bruno Fernandes being the latest example. Their current interim manager Ralf Rangnick may look to repeat this feat as he has reportedly eyed River Plate’s Julián Álvarez as a transfer target.
The Argentine attacker’s contract at River Plate runs out in December 2022. The £17m release clause included in his current contract rises to £21m in the winter transfer window. That’s why many top names around Europe are chasing his signature and are looking to get him in during January.
Rangnick’s scouting abilities have proven to be highly effective previously as the scouting network led by him has been credited with the development of several world-class talents such as Sadio Mane, Timo Werner, Erling Haaland, Joshua Kimmich etc. Julián can become the latest addition to this list if things go right and here are the five reasons why he is the guy the German manager needs at the moment in the Theatre of Dreams –
Julian Alvarez started his career as a striker but just at the age of 22, he is quite adept at playing in any position of the front three. River Plate’s manager Marcelo Gallardo has already used him in 4-3-3, 4-4-2 diamond, 4-2-3-1, 4-1-4-1, 3-4-3, 3-5-2 and 3-1-4-2 formations. He prefers to play on the right, as his heatmap suggests that he enjoys his best time playing on that side of the pitch but if required, he can stay narrow and even change the wing to support his team.
#2 Goal-scoring Ability:
In this edition of the Argentina Primera Division, he has scored 18 goals in 17 starts, i.e., more than one goal per start. Under Ralf Rangnick, Manchester United are yet to score more than one goal per game and in fact, the team has only scored 27 goals in 17 league games till now. They badly need someone who can find the back of the net consistently, and Julián may just be the man for that.
#3 Chance Creating Ability:
Till now, Julián Álvarez has registered 7 assists in the league – the same number of assists United’s highest assist provider Paul Pogba has registered in the Premier League this season. Álvarez has also created 9 big chances and provided 2.1 key passes per game. Manchester United’s leader in those categories is Bruno Fernandes with 8 big chances created and 2.8 key passes per game. Even after keeping in mind the difference in the competitiveness of Argentina Primera Division and Premier League, Julián’s numbers are incredible, especially when United’s second-highest big chances creator and key pass provider is Luke Shaw with 3 and 1.9 respectively.
#4 Defensive Contribution:
Rangnick loves players with high work rates who are willing to leave their all on the pitch. His gegenpressing strategy requires attackers to also contribute defensively. Under him, United has suffered due to low defensive contribution from their attackers’ sides. This is also where Álvarez can help. With 1 tackle per game, he has won the possession back 0.8 times per game. His desire to play for the badge and attitude to go the extra mile may well make him a fan favourite at Old Trafford if the deal happens.
— UtdFaithfuls (@UtdFaithfuls) December 28, 2021
His discipline has got to be the most impressive side of his performance. On one hand, despite being so aggressive without the ball, he has picked up only one yellow card the whole season. On the other hand, Manchester United is struggling due to lack of discipline on the pitch as they already have one player with 5 yellow cards and five players with 4 yellow cards. Álvarez’s strategic thinking without the ball is backed by his supreme execution and thus, he can become a key in Rangnick’s gegenpressing.