Manchester City have agreed to sign River Plate’s promising youngster, Claudio Echeverri for a fee of £21.7 million. The midfielder, who has only just turned 18, is the latest South American teenager to make the move to one of Europe’s elite clubs
The move is reminiscent of fellow River Plate product Julian Alvarez’s move to City in January 2022, which will see him remain with the Argentinian side for the remainder of his contract, which expires on December 31, 2024, before joining up with Pep Guardiola’s side.
Echeverri joined River Plate at the age of 10 in 2016 and was already making waves the following year as he scored four goals in a game against Juventus in a youth tournament in Italy. Clubs have been keeping a close eye on him ever since as he advanced through the ranks at River Plate and eventually signed his first professional contract in early 2023. He made his debut for River Plate in June 2023, when he came off the bench to provide an assist.
Although Echeverri had only made four appearances off the bench for River Plate’s senior team before the move, it was his performances on the international stage for the Argentina U-17 team, where he has scored 13 goals and provided 5 assists in 22 games, that garnered the attention of many of Europe’s top clubs.
Echeverri, nicknamed ‘El Diablito’ meaning Little Devil, was a standout player at the U-17 World Cup as captain of Argentina, where he finished the tournament with five goals, including a hat-trick against arch-rivals Brazil, to finish second in the race for the Golden Boot. Argentina eventually went on to finish fourth, but Echeverri managed to leave a lasting impression with his performances throughout the tournament, which have drawn comparisons with a certain Lionel Messi at that age.
Player Profile: Claudio Echeverri
Echeverri’s is a right-footed player whose strongest attribute is his dribbling; whilst not being rapid, he infuses feints and drops of the shoulder to beat defenders. He also excels at receiving the ball on the turn or with his back to the goal before evading challenges and breaking through the lines to advance the team up the field. His ability to find pockets of space will be a valuable asset as he prepares to play in the Premier League and Champions League.
It’s one thing to be a strong dribbler, but it’s vital to have an end product at the end of a mazy run or after beating multiple defenders. Echeverri is particularly impressive in this respect for his age, as his ability to pick a pass as well as his finishing are very strong.
The decision-making of ‘El Diablito’ is often to be commended as he regularly makes the right move whether it’s taking the shot or finding a teammate in a better position. This is something that’s reflected in his stats in goals and assists for an attacking midfielder. This trait will also be one that will be hugely appreciated amongst the scouting department and boardroom at Man City, as it fits perfectly with their philosophy and style of play.
His style of play is reminiscent of an old-school number 10 playmaker that is becoming more and more of a rarity within the sport in recent times. This position is often now seen as one of luxury, but it shouldn’t apply to the Argentinian, who is full of tenacity and willingness to work. This is a part of his game that he will need to be completely capable of in order to succeed in a Guardiola team where the players press all over the pitch and work for each other.
A potential weakness in the attacking midfielder’s game would be his aerial ability along with his physicality, which he will be sure to experience in the Premier League. This is only natural, though, in the step-up in quality, and he will have to adjust his game accordingly, whether that means bulking up or adding different elements to his play style.
Naturally, there will be a period of adaptation, and much like Julian Alvarez in his first season, Echeverri may be restricted in his minutes early in his City career to help him adjust to the new league before growing into the team naturally and becoming an integral member of the squad.
Despite these potential obstacles he may encounter in the Premier League, there is no doubt that he has all the attributes to be an outstanding player if he continues to progress on his current trajectory.
Why does Man City need him?
A case can certainly be made that Manchester City’s midfield options have weakened since last season’s treble-winning campaign. The Summer outgoings of Ilkay Gundogan and Riyad Mahrez have affected City’s attacking threat this season. Although Cole Palmer failed to nail down a regular starting spot in City’s team last season, he has been a revelation for a misfiring Chelsea team which raises the question if he was ready to step into the shoes of Mahrez on the right flank.
The long-term injury of Kevin De Bruyne along with injuries to Jeremy Doku and Erling Haaland have certainly faltered City’s attacking output in recent weeks where they went on an uncharacteristic run of one win in six games. This has left Norwegian youngster Oscar Bobb as the only attacking option from the bench at times this season which shows the fragility of City’s squad from an attacking view when players are missing. Echeverri could add something different to Man City’s frontline.
Manchester City signed three midfielders in the summer Matheus Nunes, Mateo Kovacic and Jeremy Doku but ultimately, they aren’t producing the same output as the players that they replaced. Doku has shown early signs of promise in his first season as he adjusts to Guardiola’s system and a new league in England. The hope will be that Doku can eventually emulate the contributions that Mahrez was able to bring to the City team from a wide position.
However, Nunes and Kovacic both have experience in the premier league and despite their limited playing time, they haven’t replaced the attacking threat of Gundogan who played in a similar position but managed to have 13 goal contributions from midfield especially during crucial times last season. The two new signings have failed to score in 22 appearances for the club between them.
This results in a huge reliance on Rodri to step up and contribute to their attack from a deeper-lying midfield role when the forwards aren’t producing. Echeverri could potentially solve this issue and ultimately be a replacement for Gundogan from an attacking perspective as well as an alternative option further forward with the likes of Foden and Alvarez.
Although Echeverri is traditionally a playmaker himself, he certainly has the attributes to thrive in many positions across the midfield especially with protection from the likes of a Rodri or from City’s full-backs who step into these positions when in possession. This versatility is ideal for City whose attackers often interchange in position across the pitch.
Echeverri can certainly be seen as one for City’s future. Kevin De Bruyne will be turning 33 following the conclusion of this season and Bernardo Silva is consistently being linked with a move away from the Etihad which seems to be an inevitability. This means that City have to start thinking about the future in these positions and Echeverri can certainly be seen as one of the solutions to this dilemma in the long term.
This season has shown much City rely on De Bruyne’s creativity which is something that the youngster can take on the mantle of in the future in his absence. The Argentine can join the likes of Foden, Doku, Grealish, Alvarez and Haaland in a young core of Manchester City’s attack for years to come.
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