In Focus: Argentine assassin Alvarez ready to make his mark at City
Julian Alvarez has been making waves at River Plate.
The Manchester City-bound forward hit the headlines after scoring six times in a single match last week — and he will be hoping to make a similar impression at the Etihad Stadium next season.
Ahead of Argentina's Finalissima clash with Italy tonight, we take a look at how the striking sensation can make his mark for Pep Guardiola's men.
Alvarez's scintillating six-goal haul against Alianza Lima is not the first instance of Los Millonarios' No9 netting multiple times in one game this year.
In fact, the 22-year-old has scored two other hat-tricks already in 2022.
It is a trend he has continued from last year when he netted three braces, a treble and a four-goal salvo.
The Cordoba native now has 50 senior goals for River Plate in just 113 appearances.
'Guardiola won't let us keep him!'
River manager Marcelo Gallardo expressed a desire to retain his star striker until the end of the year — but it is clear that Guardiola wants Alvarez to join him in Manchester this summer.
The Citizens tied up a deal for the seven-cap international in January before loaning him back to the Argentine giants.
And Gallardo is now preparing for his imminent departure.
He said: "It is difficult for Julian to stay because there is a team that made a great investment, Manchester City takes a diamond in the rough.
"We are a country that exports soccer players, many soccer players have left us in this time and we have tried to survive all of those.
"What happens does not depend on me or what we can do.
"If they 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 enough 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 Julian until the end of the year!"
Scoring in bunches
A caveat to Alvarez's hat-trick heroics is that he has tended to score his goals sporadically.
His overall tally of 15 strikes in 19 appearances this year is impressive but the frontman has reached that total through goals scored in just six games.
Alvarez did net in 11 of his 21 league outings last year — but only troubled the scoresheet in two of his 10 Copa Libertadores showings and one of 13 Copa de la Liga games.
He will need to be more consistent if he is to command a regular starting spot at the Etihad Stadium.
Comparisons to Haaland
As impressive as Alvarez's goal record is, he cannot compete with fellow incoming star Erling Haaland on that front — and the Norwegian will surely begin the season as first-choice forward.
At 5ft 7in, the Argentine is a very different profile of player to the 6ft 4in Norwegian.
While both like to run in behind, Alvarez is more proficient with the ball at his feet and is comfortable dropping off to link play or dribbling past people.
Perhaps that different skill set will see him selected over Haaland against particular opponents.
A deadly duo?
While Guardiola is unlikely to deviate from his preferred 4-3-3 formation any time soon, the prospect of Alvarez and Haaland playing in tandem is certainly a tantalising one.
Their profiles complement each other and both are deadly finishers in their own right.
That strike partnership may only be seen in the dying embers of games when City are chasing a goal — but it is certainly not a bad option for the Spanish tactician to have at his disposal.