Men's Team

10 things you didn’t know about Julian Alvarez 

Argentine striker Julian Alvarez has sealed his move to the Etihad Stadium from South American giants River Plate. 

The 22-year-old signed a five-year deal earlier this year, and will be part of Pep Guardiola’s squad for the 2022/23 season.  

Here are 10 things you may or may not know about our new man…  

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1. Early promise 

Born in the small village of Calchin in the heart of the Cordoba province on 31 January 2000, the youngster was marked out for greatness from a very early age at his local club Atletico Calchin. 

His first coach Rafael Varas, who was a delivery driver by day and coach of Atletico by night, was immediately taken by Alvarez’s special talent. 

“Julian was always with a ball and even then he was like the person he is today – only in miniature,” Varas recalled earlier this year. 

“He is a very quiet person, very responsible and focused. Playing football has always been so natural to him. 

“I remember one goal, when he was about eight or nine, when he beat four or five rivals and scored a rabona goal. 

“That’s when I realised we had a different kind of player, who could be a world star. 

“I was not his teacher. How can you teach a player like Julian? You can only advise." 

2. Humble background 

The work ethic was ingrained in Alvarez’s personality and upbringing from an early age. 

His father Gustavo earned his living working in a cereal factory whilst his mother Mariana is a kindergarten teacher, with both parents hugely supportive towards their son in his football endeavours from the get-go.

3. The Real deal 

As a promising 11-year-old, Alvarez had trials with both Boca Juniors and Real Madrid and scored twice to help Real win a prestigious youth tournament during his month-long spell with the Spanish club. 

“I played five games of the Peralanda tournament and scored twice. We won the final against Real Betis and I assisted the winning goal,” Alvarez told La Voz from Madrid. “I also played a Clasico against Barcelona.” 

However, a move did not materialise on the back of that trial, due in part to age restrictions on foreign signings in Spain with youngsters not able to move under the age of 13. 

And within a couple of years Alvarez had then made the move to River Plate joining the club in 2016. 

4. Driven to succeed 

Alvarez never forgot the debt of gratitude he owed his first coach – and in the autumn of 2020 after having become established at River, he demonstrated his generosity by buying Varas a new delivery van. 

The veteran coach admitted he was reduced to tears when Alvarez’s father turned up outside his house with the keys to a brand new van. 

5. World in action 

Having impressed at youth level, both for River Plate and internationally for Argentina, in the summer of 2018 Alvarez was part of a group of young Argentine players who were invited to travel with the country's senior squad to the World Cup finals in Russia to take part in training sessions. 

The experience of spending time with players of the stature of Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero served Alvarez well, and when he returned to River Plate ahead of the start of the 2018/19 season, he was promoted to the first-team squad by long-serving River Plate manager Marcelo Gallardo. 

6. Copa joy 

Alvarez was subsequently handed his River Plate debut in October 2018 – and the iconic number nine shirt - with Gallardo declaring: "He is a player who every manager would like to coach.” 

Such was the coach’s faith in the teenager, Alvarez quickly went on to taste continental glory by appearing as a substitute in the second leg of River’s 2018 Copa Libertadores final victory against Boca Juniors. 

The game was ironically played at Real Madrid’s Bernabeu stadium after having being moved to Spain following crowd trouble in Argentina with River winning 3-1 after extra time to clinch a 5-3 aggregate triumph. 

The competition is South America’s equivalent of the Champions League and that 2018 success against their fiercest rivals from Buenos Aires was the first time the two Argentine giants had met in the showpiece. 

7. Goal standard  

Having scored his first senior goal for River in March 2019 in a league win over Independiente, he then went on to score the winner to help the Argentine side win the Copa Argentina Final 3-0 against Central Cordoba. 

Alvarez then finished as the Primera Division’s top scorer in 2021, having amassed 20 goals in 35 games and was also named the South American Footballer of the Year. 

8. Passion play 

In an interview in 2020, Alvarez revealed how he was dreaming of playing in Europe – with City already at the forefront of his mind. 

“Playing in Europe is most people's dream because of those leagues' quality and what it means to be at those clubs,” he admitted to Radio La Red. 

“But I am taking it easy. Later the time will come, through the work I am doing. On the Playstation I play with Manchester City or Barcelona!” 

9. Country life 

Having been capped by Argentina at Under-20 level and then featuring in the 2019 Under-20 World Cup, Alvarez was subsequently afforded his senior Argentine debut in June 2021 in a World Cup qualifier against Chile. 

He was also part of the Argentine squad that tasted success in the 2021 Copa America held in Brazil. 

Alvarez subsequently scored his first international goal in March of this year, in a 1-1 World Cup qualifying draw away to Ecuador. 

10. Six appeal 

Alvarez’s talent was further illustrated in May of this year when he scored six times in River’s 8-1 demolition of Alianz Lima in a Copa Libertadores group clash. 

The feat saw Alvarez make South American history as he became only the second player to score six goals in a Libertadores match and the first River player to ever achieve the notable feat.  

The last player to hit six in the Copa Libertadores was ​​Juan Carlos Sanchez in 1985 at Club Blooming. 

Erling Haaland, Kalvin Phillips, Julian Alvarez, and Stefan Ortega Moreno will all be introduced to City fans at a special event this Sunday 10 July. Find out how you can meet our new signings or follow live on our official channels.

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