Manchester City’s typically sleepy mid-season transfer window has been rocked by reports that River Plate sensation Julian Alvarez is set to join the Blues.
An agreement of the order of 16.5 million pounds sterling could be enough to get the 2021 South American Footballer of the Year, although this is an example of a January signing that isn’t really a January signing.
Alvarez will likely be loaned out to River or one of City’s affiliate clubs in Europe if a deal is agreed.
At first glance, this seems a bit disappointing, but such a period can be taken advantage of by the player in question and serve to build excitement and anticipation around the impending new arrival.
For example, Argentina international Alvarez need look no further than one of the oldest members of Pep Guardiola’s first team.
City agreed a £27million deal to sign Gabriel Jesus in August 2016, with an agreement that he would stay with Palmeiras for the rest of the Brazilian season before moving to Manchester in January 2017.
All the fears that the teenager of the time Gabrielle could be distracted by the impending move were quickly extinguished as he played a leading role in Brazil’s march to gold medal glory at the 2016 Olympics on home soil. He scored three times, including twice in Honduras’ 6-0 semi-final.
Back at the club, Jesus guided Palmeiras to the Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A title, while his Rio 2016 heroics helped lift Brazil’s senior squad.
The CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying section is notoriously one of the toughest assignments in international football. Still, Gabriel did light work – scoring five out of six appearances for the Seleçao.
It meant that Jesus arrived in the middle of Guardiola’s turbulent first season as a breath of fresh air, a youngster brimming with confidence who duly made an emphatic first impression.
Comparisons between Alvarez and the great Sergio Aguero mean City fans will understandably be eager to see the new man as soon as possible if he signs.
But another year in Buenos Aires could set him up for the stratosphere. Alvarez is the top scorer in the Argentine top flight and River is on course for the title this season. Marcelo Gallardo’s time in charge of El Monumental will likely always be defined by the 2018 Copa Libertadores final victory over bitter rivals Boca Juniors.
A heartbreaking loss to Flamengo prevented River from retaining the Continental crown in the following year’s showpiece. Gallardo will be keen to add another Libertadores to his CV before his current contract expires in December 2022.
The most likely spearhead of that triumph if he sticks around is Alvarez, with the Libertadores taking place from February to October this year.
Then there is the small matter of an end-of-year World Cup in Qatar. Alvarez’s five appearances in Argentina so far have come from the bench, but there’s the tantalizing prospect of him being a standout for the Albiceleste as Lionel Messi does his swan song on the biggest stage.
How about that for a dream scenario in January 2023? Manchester City’s new striker walks through the door with a World Cup medal in one pocket and a Libertadores in the other.
Jesus’ impressive journey from signing to arriving at City shows that it is not impossible, although the arrival of a player capable of operating in all three positions on the front line is perhaps not impossible. not be the best news for the Brazilian himself.
Do you think Alvarez would benefit from another year in Argentina? Follow City Is Ours Editor Dom Farrell on Twitter to join the discussion and let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.