How Julian Álvarez can unlock Manchester City’s full potential
Signing towards the end of the January transfer window in 2022 but joining Manchester City in July of the same year, former River Plate striker Julian Álvarez looked set to light the Premier League on fire.
After all, his time at one of Argentina’s top football clubs was highly successful, especially considering that he made his debut at the age of 18 back in 2018.
One Copa Libertadores, an Argentinean national league title, and a domestic cup title all paled in comparison to when he joined the senior Argentinean national team for the Copa America in 2021, where La Albiceleste would lift their first international trophy in 28 years.
To cap it all off, having already agreed to join Manchester City, Álvarez scored six (!!!) goals in one Copa Libertadores game to send a clear message to their new employers and to the rest of Europe. Julian Álvarez was coming to continue his rapid ascend to the top of football.
The signing of Erling Haaland has decreased Álvarez’s hype significantly. The man who, at the time of writing, is on 42 goals in 37 appearances in all competitions, it’s no surprise to see he’s become a staple in Pep Guardiola’s squad; a squad that often rotates due to the plethora of talent at disposal.
However, in case you haven’t been keeping up, City have not looked as impressive as we all thought they would, especially when you consider that this is the team that won back-to-back Premier League titles without a striker.
Whilst the conversation around whether Haaland joined the right team makes very little sense, it is true that City have looked one-dimensional at times, failing to truly make the most out of their Norwegian star and world-class attackers.
Why Julian Álvarez can provide the spark for a Manchester City treble
This is where Julian Álvarez comes in. Whilst he is probably Haaland’s direct substitution given he is the only other ‘natural’ striker in the team, one only needs to look at the impressive World Cup he had that helped to lift the most prestigious trophy in all of football for Argentina. He’s so much more than just a pure number 9.
His pressing, runs into the channels, and overall tenacity make him impossible to predict or hold down, just ask Croatia’s entire team when he sprinted past all of them to score in the World Cup semi-final.
He also seems to have quite the connection with Haaland despite the two rarely featuring together, and Álvarez has actually played very little in general when compared to other City players.
Don’t let the 35 appearances fool you, he has only played 20 full nineties and only started 16 of those in all competitions. That’s less than Joao Cancelo, who left the club in January.
Despite his relatively low playing time, he’s on 17 goal contributions and has oftentimes looked like the most dangerous attacker on the pitch.
If his performance against Burnley in the FA Cup showed that he can be a crucial player to City, helping himself to two goals and a wonderful assist for Haaland to open the scoring, then his game against Liverpool this weekend solidified why he should play more minutes.
With Haaland out injured, Álvarez drew the score level with a tap in and began the movement that led to the second goal with an outrageous pass to Riyad Mahrez.
With City still deep in all three major competitions, but lagging behind in the Premier League title race, Guardiola has to start giving Álvarez more game time.
Not only does he offer statistical output, he makes the City attack seem less lethargic thanks to his non-stop energy. The way he can manoeuvre in and out of the wings, into the middle, or even come back to defend, it makes the attack more unpredictable than just hoping Haaland gets on the end of a Kevin De Bruyne cross.
Whilst City’s attack is nothing to look down on, it has not been the consistent, well-oiled City machine that Guardiola has overseen since his arrival at the club.
If City want to push for the treble, it’ll take bringing Julian Álvarez more into the fold. He’s already proven he can do it on the biggest stage in the world so why not in one of the most feared teams in Europe?