Focus on Haaland might well suit fellow new arrival Alvarez

JACK GAUGHAN: All the focus at Man City has been on Erling Haaland but that might well suit fellow new striker Julian Alvarez… ‘The Spider’ can play out wide, score off both feet and has the potential to become a real bargain at just £14m

  • Pablo Zabaleta pulled aside compatriot Julian Alvarez for a chat on US tour
  • Alvarez, nicknamed the spider, arrives to less fanfare than Erling Haaland
  • Considered one of the most exciting young talents on the planet however
  • Sergio Aguero convinced the young Argentine to sign for the club in January 

Spider-Man is not usually overshadowed but then again, he has never met The Terminator before.

The focus around Manchester City is on Erling Haaland — a brutal goalscorer and a global phenomenon — and that might well suit the wiry Julian Alvarez, whose arrival has been far more understated.

Alvarez, nicknamed The Spider, has been interacting with his new team-mates for the first time over the past week and ready to make a debut in the early hours of Thursday morning against Club America in Texas.

Julian Alvarez arrived at the club earlier this month to much less fanfare than Erling Haaland

His is the unusual step of heading straight to the Premier League from Argentina, where it is more often the case that South American stars take a prior stop elsewhere in Europe. Sergio Aguero – who sold the idea of joining City to Alvarez at the beginning of the year – is a prime example of that.

While all eyes are on Haaland, who became known as The Terminator by Borussia Dortmund fans, Alvarez is here with real pedigree. His older brothers dreamt the nickname up by claiming that marking him was akin to tackling someone with more than two legs, and his record for River Plate was exemplary.

Seventeen goals and six assists in 24 matches for River crystalised Pep Guardiola’s belief that City wanted him for this coming season. At £14million, this deal has the potential to become a real bargain for a striker who can also operate wide and scores off both feet.

The Argentinian (centre right) will hope to hit the ground running like his compatriot Sergio Aguero did all those years ago

The striker is good of both feet and is adept at playing out wide as well as through the middle

Pablo Zabaleta, a City icon out here on ambassadorial duties, grabbed his compatriot for a chat on the plane over the weekend. ‘I was telling him the club is completely different to when I first came to Manchester,’ Zabaleta said. ‘I just said, “listen, you’re probably in one of the greatest clubs in the world right now”. There is no better place than Man City, if you see the facilities, the team, the manager.

‘All he has to do is work hard and show how good he is. He will have to be patient, because there is competition. But at City, you will always have 50 games a season and there are plenty of opportunities to play. 

‘He will need to be ready to perform.’ 

The Argentine became something of an icon at River Plate – helped by a performance in the Copa Libertadores in which he scored six goals 

He has been spending time with his new teammates for the first time this past week in the US

Manchester City fans will be hoping Alvarez can make an impact similar to that of their last Argentine centre forward

Aguero is enthused about Alvarez, telling friends that he has the potential to excite supporters more than he did during a decade that saw him become the club’s most decorated striker. Expectations in Argentina are clearly through the roof and the buzz around Alvarez is seemingly a reason why City are opting not to replace Raheem Sterling.

‘These players come with big expectations. It’s a big move for him,’ Zabaleta said. ‘If there’s anything I can do to help Julian, the advice, I will do it 100 per cent.’ 

Having Aguero and Zabaleta on hand should prove invaluable – with his father Gustavo and a brother moving to the North West as well. The scale of this transfer, and what it means to Alvarez’s small hometown Calchin, was evident at his unveiling when his entourage stretched into double figures. 

‘The club makes you feel at home,’ Zabaleta added. ‘Hopefully Julian can stay as long as Sergio did and score some beautiful goals. He is a complete striker, one of the best in South America.’ Ends

Pablo Zabaleta, seen here in Houston on the club’s pre-season tour, said that Manchester City makes you feel at home 

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